Until the last century, the Italian grey partridge (Perdix perdix italica) was widespread in the Apennine and Alpine territories of our peninsula within an altitude of 1,800 m. Since the middle of the 1900s, viable populations have rapidly declined and the species is currently considered as formally extinct in the wild, existing only with a small number of specimens in some breeding stocks in northern Italy.
The Italian grey partridge is a flightless non-migratory medium-sized bird. In adults the dominant color of the plumage varies between gray-blue and reddish, as well as in the young specimens, but with less marked tones. The modest sexual dimorphism in the plumage and the weight contrasts with the presence of light transversal striae called “Croce di Sant’Andrea” on the chestnut female scapulars.
The adults feed almost exclusively on seeds, buds, leaves, berries, while the whole chick’s diet is made up of protein – insects and larvae – in the first three weeks of their life. The abundance of insects is therefore very important during spring – egg hatching period – for the Italian grey partridge’s survival.
The birds prefer open fallow lands, this is also why the species is so vulnerable. The Italian grey partridge loves cereal fields, grasslands and pastures with hedgerows and bushy, grassy edges. It prefers open fallow lands also for breeding and nesting.