|Crested wood partridge |
A partridge is a medium-sized galliform bird in any of several genera, with a wide native distribution throughout parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Several species have been introduced to the Americas. They are sometimes grouped in the Perdicinae subfamily of the Phasianidae (pheasants, quail, etc.). However, molecular research suggests that partridges are not a distinct taxon within the family Phasianidae, but that some species are closer to the pheasants, while others are closer to the junglefowl.
Partridges are medium-sized game birds, generally intermediate in size between the larger pheasants, smaller quail; they're ground-dwelling birds that feature variable plumage colouration across species, with most tending to grey and brown.
Partridges are native to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Some species are found nesting on steppes or agricultural land, while other species prefer more forested areas. They nest on the ground and have a diet consisting of seeds and insects.
Species such as the grey partridge and the red-legged partridge are popular as game birds, and are often reared in captivity and released for the purpose of hunting. For the same reason, they have been introduced into large areas of North America.
According to Greek legend, the first partridge appeared when Daedalus threw his nephew, Perdix, off the sacred hill of Athena in a fit of jealous rage. Supposedly mindful of his fall, the bird does not build its nest in the trees, nor take lofty flights and avoids high places.
In the Bible it is stated: "As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool." (Jeremiah 17 : 11, King James Bible).
As described by medieval scholar Madeleine Pelner Cosman, medical practitioners in the Middle Ages recommended partridge as a food of love: They suggested that "Partridge was superior in arousing dulled passions and increasing the powers of engendering. Gentle to the human stomach, partridge stimulated bodily fluids, raised the spirits, and firmed the muscles."
Probably the most famous reference to the partridge is in the Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". The first gift listed is "a partridge in a pear tree", and these words end each verse. Since partridges are unlikely to be seen in pear-trees (they are ground-nesting birds) it has been suggested that the text "a pear tree" is a corruption of the French "une perdrix" (a partridge).
The partridge has also been used as a symbol that represents Kurdish nationalism. It is called Kew. Sherko Kurmanj discusses the paradox of symbols in Iraq as an attempt to make a distinction between the Kurds and the Arabs. He says that while Iraqis generally regards the palm tree, falcon, and sword as their national symbols, the Kurds consider the oak, partridge, and dagger as theirs.