A New Bird in the Flock – the French Redleg Partridge

Published On: January 28, 2010Categories: French Red-Legged Partridge, Mature Birds

The red-legged partridge is a game bird in the partridge family sometimes known as French Partridge or simply as Redleg Partridges. Bred for centuries on gamebird farms in France and Italy, the Redleg has not been bred on a commercial scale in the United States (in comparison to the many commercial producers of Chukar Partridge in our country).

For three years now, we at MacFarlanes have been importing pure Redleg eggs directly from L’envol de Retz, a large successful game bird propagator located in France.  We have been very impressed with the fertility and hatchability of the eggs we have purchased.   And the uniformity of the birds surpasses nearly any commercial game bird we have seen. The Redlegs we have raised here are just flat out one of the most impressive game birds we have been associated with.

Many American hunters travel to the U.K. to participate in driven shoots at high end estates. Most of the U.K. shoots feature not only pheasants of course, but the French Redleg Partridge (Chukars and Chukar
Redleg Cross partridges are literally illegal in the U.K.). The American hunters that have experienced the Redlegs on U.K. shoots have been amazed at the flight speed and wildness of the Redlegs.

The Redleg Partridge is a rotund bird, with a light brown back, grey breast and buff belly. It has streaked flanks and red legs. The Redleg has a white forehead and a broken black line on their neck and throat which distinguishes them from the chukar. The two main differences in appearance between the Chukar and the Redleg are that Redlegs are brown and Chukars are grey and the Redlegs have significant speckling on their throats and breast and Chukars have no speckling. The main difference in how Redlegs act versus Chukars is that Redlegs are as wild or perhaps more wild than even Hungarian Partridge; whereas, the main knock on Chukars is that Chukars tend to be the most domestic of the commercially raised game birds. Body weight ranges from 19 to 26 ounces and body size is 13 to 15 inches in length. This species is hardy, able to withstand the extremes of temperature and easy to keep in captivity. They prefer a more grassland like habitat which consists of small grain or bushy terrain.

The Redleg is a fast and strong flying bird. They hold well in cover and get up and go when flushed. They use their deep chest to propel themselves uphill and flush downhill often giving hunters numerous chances. The Redleg can scurry across the ground at quick speeds to avoid predators, thus considering this bird a treasured catch for hunters looking to add speed to their hunts. So if you are looking for something unique to separate yourself from the rest, the Redleg Partridge maybe what you are looking for.

Troy Cisewski
MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.
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