Gray Partridges In The Snow

My trip to the “white world” of Box Elder County two days ago produced close encounters with several species including a small covey of Gray Partridges.


Typically I’ve found this species to be pretty secretive but these birds were determined to eat grit found alongside the edge of the road so they tolerated my pickup and repeatedly came in close. There was so much snow on the ground that the grit couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Because of the snow and the bright-white clouds that diffused the light and dispersed it evenly onto everything around me most of my shots of these partridges have very little detail in the snow. They almost look like the birds have been pasted onto a very white piece of paper.



So I made special efforts to fire my shutter whenever there was something else, anything else! in my viewfinder other than snow and the bird. Sometimes it was in the foreground…



and other times in the background.



Once I caught a bird running down an almost vertical snow bank but sadly I cut off its foot.



A close-up shows the bright red spot behind the eyes of adults. That spot is actually a bare spot (no feathers) and changes from gray in juveniles to red in adults.

Sorry about the lack if image techs and the brief text this morning but I’m in a world of dental pain and discomfort so I’m not concentrating very well. My first visit to the dentist apparently didn’t identify the source of the problem and the symptoms have worsened so I’ll be visiting him again today.

If things don’t improve soon I may take a day or two off from Feathered Photography. Just so you know…


PS – In light like this I sometimes add a touch of contrast/saturation selectively to the bird during processing but this time I didn’t do it. All I’ve done with these images is make slight exposure adjustments and sharpen.   


42 comments to Gray Partridges In The Snow

  • These are wonderful pics. I would bet them secretive and more difficult to find. I love how you always get such perfect captures, even if you just miss a foot, still perfect.

  • Jean Haley

    Pretty bird, and given all of the snow, the shots are great. Hope your problem has been solved, and you feel better tomorrow.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Beautifil bird and series Ron! Thanks for sharing!


  • Linda Chowns

    Beautiful photos of a beautiful bird Ron! Wishing you a speedy recovery from your dental pain.

  • Len Boeder

    Hi Ron, As a retired dentist I wish you the best. Hopefully your problem can be easily solved.
    Wonderfull pictures.

  • Marty K

    I really hope your dental pain gets resolved! Not knowing the cause must be very frustrating. Thank you for taking the time to post today. Hopefully, it helped take your mind off your maxillar/mandibular malady for a little while. These are really lovely birds! (And I only have a little earworm of a certain TV theme song…)

  • Pat

    These photos really astonished me! I’ve never seen this bird in nature and I avoid cold weather. However, the snow does make a pretty backdrop!

    BTW If you have to have a root canal, it is not as bad as you may have heard. Good Luck!

    • Patty Chadwick

      Root canal wasn’t bad for me either…used lots of ice…one pain pill…sorry about yoir pain…I hope doc can help, quickly!!! And inexpensively…

    • I’m an old hand at root canals, Pat – had 4 or 5 of them. Most weren’t too bad but two were simply awful because of “complications”.

  • Patty Chadwick

    You and Mia ( the BIRTHDAY GIRL) sure got some wonderful images of this BEAUTIFUL bird!!!! The warm colors are particularly nice againt the white snowy background….a great portrait!

  • Laura Culley

    So very sorry you’re doing dental pain! That’s near the worst! Hope you’re better immediately if not sooner after seeing the dentist!!
    And again, what a lovely way to begin the day! I look at feather patterns and wonder how they DO that! What an amazing talent birds have for beauty and grace!

    • Laura, in my experience those interesting and beautiful color patterns on their dorsal surfaces are pretty unique to this species.

      • Laura Culley

        And the patterns are unique across individuals and across individuals of other species. How do they DO that? Magic. Just magic! 🙂

  • Kris Eberhard

    All that snow makes such a wonderful foil for the subtle colors of those beautiful birds–one can really focus on their lovely patterns. Sure hope your dentist can pinpoint the source of that pain on this visit !

  • Susan Stone

    These are absolutely beautiful birds. I especially like the last two shots. Having a dusty computer screen fixed the problem with lack of detail in the snow, for me… 🙂 Hope you can get your dental problem resolved quickly.

    • “Having a dusty computer screen fixed the problem with lack of detail in the snow, for me”

      I have that same problem all too often, Susan. Not a good thing when you’re trying to evaluate fine detail in images.

  • Dick Ashford

    Hi Ron,
    Wishing you more up-close encounters with the birds, and fewer up-close encounters with the dentist… 😀

  • Cindy Brougher Zalunardo

    Ron, I’m just back from our annual East Cascades Audubon Society winter birding trip to the Wallowas in NE Oregon. Gray partridge in the snow was one of our targets and we were not disappointed. But your photos enrich my experience, so much more detail than what I saw with my bins through the car window. Thank you so much! Did you see any snow buntings?

    • Thank you, Cindy. No, I didn’t see any Snow Buntings but there were several large flocks of Horned Larks and as I’m sure you know buntings are often found mixed in with them. There very well could have been a few that I didn’t see and identify.

  • Den DiMarco

    Thanks for this wonderful series, Ron. Take care of that dental issue!

  • Shirley Smith

    Love these shots, Ron! One of my best shots was of a Bald Eagle that landed in an evergreen tree and the background was low white cloud. I am sorry that you are not feeling so well but even though we will miss your blog we all understand and will welcome you back when you are able.

  • Zaphir Shamma

    Hope you feel better Ron. Great shots and detail 🙂 Wouldn’t mind hearing about any exposure compensation and metering mode adjustments made in the field to compensate for the snow (only when you feel better though).

    • Zaphir. I just checked and it looks like most of my images of these birds that were exposed properly (not all of them were) were taken at +.67 EV. I was very close to them so the darker birds filled up much of the frame.

  • Neat images of the partridges Ron, I actually love them in this winter whiteness. The red spot is interesting, probably serves some purpose. Sorry to hear about your tooth pain. I hope you get that resolved soon without introducing more pain and discomfort.

  • Dick Harlow

    Very nice shots Ron. Love the feather detail.
    I empathize with your pain, been there! Hope you can get it taken care of soon!

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful little birds. 🙂 They must have great circulation at the bare spot for it to be so red. Hope the dentist figures out your problem – NO fun at all. 🙁 If it’s upper it might be sinus.

    • Thanks, Judy. I hope he narrows it down today.

      I agree, these birds are beautiful. Most folks who see them from a distance never notice their wonderful colors.