Gray Partridges In Glacier County, Montana

Gray Partridges are very elusive.  In all the years I’ve been returning to Montana I’ve never been able to get acceptable images of them until this last trip.  Since most folks in North America never get an opportunity to see this species I thought I’d post a few shots of them.  Hunters and locals routinely call these birds Hungarian Partridges, or “Huns” for short.  Growing up, that’s the only name I knew them by.


gray partridge 3338 ron dudley

 1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc

 It’s difficult to catch one of these birds standing still.  Usually, whenever you’re anywhere near them, they’re running for cover…



gray partridge 3232 ron dudley

  1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc

as this bird is.  And  believe me, they run fast!

Anyone who has ever unexpectedly flushed a group of these birds has had an experience they won’t soon forget.  The squawking noise they make, combined with the racket from their buzz-saw wings as they erupt in front of you, can be extremely startling – an experience I’ve had many times.  Gets the heart pounding, that’s for sure.



gray partridge 3235 ron dudley

  1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc

This is a juvenile.  I’ve cropped this image a little more than I like to but I preferred this pose over other shots of juvies I got.

This partridge has a short lifespan, high mortality rate and high reproductive capability.  Females produce among the largest single hen clutches of any bird species (up to 20 eggs).  And reproductively, this year must have been highly successful for them in nw Montana because I don’t recall having ever seen so many of them as I did this past trip.  Which delights me – despite the  fact that they’re an introduced species.


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