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Desert Partridge - Ammoperdix


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Type Name:Desert partridge
Latin name:Ammoperdix griseogularis Brandt, 1843
English name:See-see
Latin synonyms:Caccabis Bonhami Gray, 1843
Russian synonyms:chill
Squad:Chicken (Galliformes)
Family:Pheasant (Phasianidae)
Gender:Ammoperdix Gould, 1851
Status:Nesting sedentary species, making small roosts in winter.

General characteristics and field characteristics

Coloring. Adult male. The forehead and the superciliary strip are black, the crown is gray, the nape is gray with whitish transverse specks on the sides. Cheeks bluish-gray, ear coverts white. The back side of the neck is gray, its sides are also gray, but with whitish transverse specks. The upper back is gray with a buffy-pinkish tinge, the lower back is gray with small dark specks. On the upper tail coverts are unsharp light transverse mottles. Steering chestnut with brown dots on the tops, and the middle pair is all in bright transverse dots. The top of the throat is light gray, the bottom is whitish. The upper and lower parts of the chest are pinkish-buffy, and the belly is whitish. Body sides with characteristic long blackish, white and chestnut stripes. Shoulder feathers are gray with a barely noticeable transverse pattern. External webs of gray-brown primary flyworms, except for the tenth, with transverse striation. The beak is orange, the wax is yellowish-orange, the legs are dirty yellow. Metatarsus without spurs.

Adult female. The gray color, like that of a male, is dimmer. Crown-1 is brownish, whitish forehead. There are whitish stripes on the back of the neck. The upper part of the back is lighter than that of the male; on the lower part, the longitudinal specks are larger. Upper and lower parts in gray-brown specks. Bottom and top of chest in white oblong spots. There are no white or chestnut stripes on the sides of the body. Head without black and white stripes. Beak is orange, legs are dirty yellow. Females are polymorphic in color and dark, gray and light yellowish individuals stand out among them (Dementyev, 1952). The geographical location of birds with these types of coloration remains unclear and requires further study (Stepanyan, 1975).

The coloring of the first annual outfit is similar to the coloring of adult birds.

Juvenile outfit (male and female). Similar to the outfit of an adult female. The overall color tone is sandy gray, lighter on the underside of the body. On the secondary wing and upper wing coverts, a transverse pattern with whitish dots. Primary flyworms are yellowish-buffy, with a blackish-brown pattern and a grayish edge at the apex. Ear coverts and bridle are dark gray, on the sides of the crown of the head are light ocher stripes. The legs are yellowish, the beak is pale horny (Kartashev, 1952a).

The downy outfit of chicks on top is fawn gray with small dark dots, below is grayish-white. A short black stripe goes through the eye.

Desert Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis (Ammoperdix griseogularis)

The upper side of the body is a pale grayish-sand color with a light wine-pink bloom, better visible in fresh plumage, and with small black specks on the lower back. The underside is buffy-pinkish, whitish to the undertail. The primary fly-light with the ocher cross-pieces of the outer webs (except the first). The steering, except for the central ones, is chestnut. The male has a forehead and a strip through the black eye, a white bridle, crown, cheeks and throat of light gray, the back of the ear parts is red, the sides of the body are in wide black and chestnut longitudinal stripes. The female does not have chestnut stripes on the sides of her body, her head without white and black stripes, a uniform brownish-gray color with buffy lines, sides, and body in black transverse streaks.

Bill is orangeish, legs are dirty yellow, eye is yellow, orange or light blue. Wing tail metatarsus beak

The mountain hen inhabits rocky and desert areas from Mesopotamia and Persia to the Indus and even the Salt Range a little to the east. It inhabits the Transcaspian region and Bukhara to the north. The mountains rises to about above sea level.

The birds of southwestern Persia and Mesopotamia were separated into a special subspecies, a more reddish tone, under the name A. g. ter-meuleni and therefore our birds, as a subspecies, should be called:


From the southwestern parts of the Armenian Highlands east to northwestern India, south to the northern regions of Syria, the shores of the Persian Gulf, southern Iran and southern Pakistan. The northern border of the range lies within Central Asia.

Figure 11. Partridge Desert Range

In the past, the distribution of desert partridges was much wider and captured the southern parts of Europe (Kuzmina, 1977), as evidenced by the fact that a metatarsal bone of the extinct species Ammoperdix ponticus was found in the vicinity of Odessa (Tugarinov, 1940). In the USSR, the distribution of A. griseogularis is limited to the southern parts of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. In Turkmenistan, Kopetdag, Kubadag, Kurendag, Bolshoi and Maly Balkhan, Badkhyz, Karabil inhabit, in Uzbekistan - Babatag, Baysuntau and the northern slopes of the Gissar Range (Salikhbaev, 1961), in Tajikistan - ridge. Babatag, the mountains between Kafirnigan and Vakhsh from the Panj valley in the south to the hills of the southern part of the Hissar valley in the north (Ivanov, 1940).

The view reaches the southern spurs of the Darvaz Range along the Panj. To the north of Dushanbe penetrates very close - found in the valleys of Gulbista and Varzob to the mouth of the river. Harangon and in the hills on the river. Luchab (Abdusalyamov, 1971). Widely distributed on Kugitang. In Kazakhstan, it is reliably known only for the southwestern Ustyurt, where it is found south of the sand of Sam (Kuzmina, 1962). On Mangyshlak, contrary to the instructions of Kartashev (1952a), not found (Dolgushin, 1948, Gladkov, Zaletaev, 1956). A stray specimen was mined once in the remnant mountains of Aristanbeltau in central Kyzylkum (Zarudny, 1915).


Everywhere he prefers foothills and lower zones of mountains, where there are cliffs, placers of stones, ravines, etc. Willingly rests on slopes and plateau-like areas with clay substrate, with rock outcrops, screes of sandstone and limestone near springs, streams, or at least salty sources. It gravitates to open habitats of a hilly landscape with sparse woody, shrubby and grassy vegetation. In some places, although it rises to heights of 1,200–1,600 m above sea level. m., but usually avoids rocky areas and places with dense trees and shrubs.

In contrast to chamomile, desert partridge is more whimsical in its choice of habitats. Inhabited in the gorges near the chamomile, it occupies clay slopes, while the chamomile settles on both clay and rocky slopes.

Outside the foothills, on the plains, if it occurs, then only along some elevations. For example, in the hollow of Yeroylanduz in Badkhyz it keeps on small hills (Rustamov, Sukhinin, 1975). In Iran, desert partridges were observed on desert hillocks among the sands located near the mountains (Zarudny, 1900). The penetration of this bird from Kopetdag to Karakum by other ornithologists was not noted, although in very rare cases, as already mentioned, it can also get here.

On the slopes of Kopetdag, according to our observations, she lives mainly in the lower part of the mountains, at heights of 400–700 m above sea level. m., in relatively few intersected areas with clay ravines and rocky scattered everywhere, not far from water sources. Vegetation in such places is usually quickly fading, grassy, ​​with rare stunted bushes on the gentle slopes of the hills. It does not enter narrow narrow gorges. Definitely avoids rocky rocky areas. Rises not higher than 1,200 m above sea level. m. We and other ornithologists did not have to meet a desert partridge in the juniper zones. Only Zarudny (1896) once saw in the central Kopetdag a group of these birds sitting in the shade on the thick branches of juniper.

On Kurendaga, according to Kolesnikov (1956) and according to our unpublished materials, the desert partridge is most often kept in the foothills with xerophytic vegetation, rising up to the peaks of this low ridge. Here, in the upper part of sais with tugai and meadow vegetation, this bird was observed by Kolesnikov, but we did not meet it in such unusual conditions.

On hr. Gyazgadyyk chill lives on slopes with grassy vegetation and talus of stones, at an altitude of 500–700 m above sea level. m. (Dementiev et al., 1955). On Karabil, in the wide Pelengoveli gorge, desert partridges keep on clay slopes with stone outcrops (Rustamov, Sukhinin, 1975).

According to Atrek, these partridges live on clay hills and steep banks of the river, and on the Amu Darya near Kelif they were observed on low barren and dry hills (Zarudny, 1896).

In the mountains of southwestern Tajikistan, favorite nesting sites are low loess cliffs, conglomerate or sandstone hills cut by ravines and ravines, covered with sparse and quickly fading grassy vegetation with sparse shrubs. In search of water, partridges sometimes have to make transitions of 1-2 or even 8 km. They stay here mainly within the altitude of 400-600 m above sea level. m., but in some cases and higher, up to 1,200–1,350 and even up to 1,600 m (Popov, 1959, Ivanov, 1940, Abdusalyamov, 1971). In the hills of Buri-Tau in the Tigrovaya Balka nature reserve, until June inclusive, birds use deep puddles in the rocky bottoms left after spring rains as a source of moisture, and then fly to a watering hole to the shores of Vakhsh, 2–3 km from the nesting sites (P. L Potapov, unpublished data). In the Turkmen part of Kugitang, the vertical distribution of this partridge was traced from the foothills to the lower boundary of the juniper zone (Sopyev and Karaev, 1979). In the Uzbek part of this range, it also rises to the juniper zone, that is, to heights of 1,200–1,600 m above sea level. m. At the same quite significant altitudes for the desert partridge, the species was noted in the river basin. Kashkadarya, on the river Tanhas - 1,600 m above sea level m. (Meklenburtsev, 1958). In western Afghanistan, the habitat of the desert partridge is set at an altitude of 1,700 m above sea level. m. (Paludan, 1959). In southern Uzbekistan, it settles on foothill hills with rocky and clay slopes covered with almonds, rose hips and perennial herbs (Salikhbaev and Ostapenko, 1964).


There is almost no information. Laptev (1936) in Kopetdag on a route of 428 km met 100 desert partridges. A band of 200 m was taken as the viewing width, i.e., 117 individuals per 100 km2. Our materials on the Turkmen part of Kugitang show that in suitable habitats per 100 km2 in the 60s. there were 160 partridges.

Relative numbers are as follows. On Karabil near the river Kashan in the Pelengaveli gorge on June 4, 1955, was met in a 7-hour tour of 30 individuals. On April 24, 1954, 5 couples were met at the Eroylandduz in Badkhyz on an 8-hour excursion (Rustamov, Sukhinin, 1975). In the Uzbek part of Kugitang, in the Jerbulak tract in October, 20 individuals were recorded in 3 hours in October, and up to 30 individuals were recorded at Babatag at the Dzhidabulak spring (Salikhbaev and Ostapenko, 1964). In various places of this ridge in October – November 1971, there were from 6 to 24 individuals per 1 km2 (Vtorov, 1974).

Compared to chamomile, in desert partridges, changes in numbers over the years are, apparently, less frequent. Perhaps this is due to the habitat of the species mainly in the foothills, where adverse weather conditions are not as strong as in the mountains.

Daily activity, behavior

In May, partridges wake up early in Kugitang and feed before sunrise. From about 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. they go to the sources and drink for 15-20 minutes. Watering places are approached carefully and silently. After drinking, for some time (30–45 min) they stay close to the source, spread their plumage, relax, and males rise to the heights and sing. During the day, hiding in the shade of shrubs, stone blocks and cliffs. If the day is not particularly hot, then they are still active for some time, and on hot days they quickly go to places of rest. During hot hours, they rest in the shade, where they can often be seen bathing in dust baths.

When the heat subsides, partridges go to evening feeding, which lasts until 19-20 hours 30 minutes. By this time, they are again gathering near the water and drunk, quite quickly and silently retire for the night. Overnight in the same places where they rest during the day (Abdusalyamov, 1971). In the south of Uzbekistan in summer, they can most often be observed at watering holes in the morning and evening: from 1 to 10 hours and from 17 to 20 hours (Salikhbaev, 1961, Salikhbaev, Ostapenko, 1964). In Kopetdag, desert partridges in the summer can visit watering places several times during the day (Zarudny, 1896). But the bulk of the birds comes to watering only in the morning and evening hours. In the summer, driven by thirst, females appear near the water even when they are about to lay an egg.

Thus, the summer diurnal cycle in the desert partridge consists of early (before sunrise) feeding, morning watering, daytime rest in the shade, evening feeding after the decline in the heat of the day, evening watering and going to bed.

Desert partridge is a public bird. Even during the nesting period, in conditions of evenly distributed convenient places for settlement, it nests, as Laptev (1936) aptly noted, as if in colonies. In the summer, desert partridges gather in many watering places; at the end of summer and autumn they are found in flocks, including adult and young birds. Groups consisting mainly of young single males, free from family worries, also talk about the flocking of the species. The behavior of the males in relation to the brood depends not only on age, but also on individual characteristics, although it is believed that in the broods old males come across more often than young ones (Zarudny, 1896).

For the winter, desert partridges are not collected in large flocks, but kept in small groups. They feed and bask most often on the southern slopes, and are much less common near water than in summer.

Compared to Keklik, the desert partridge leads a more hidden lifestyle, mainly due to the fact that it rarely gives voice, and when taken by surprise, often hides in the recesses of the soil, merging due to its protective color with the surrounding area. In the autumn-winter time, partridges are even more cautious and secretive: frightened, fly away far, flying a distance of about three times as much as a keklik (Shlyakhtin, 1896).

From the first days of life, chicks show a marked independence. A brood at the age of several days, having lost a female, fed without assistance, went to a watering place and slept in a crevice in a heap (Zarudny, 1900. According to our observations, such broods join broods with adult birds, and in these cases, with one female 20–25 chicks can be found, sometimes up to 40–45 and even 50–60 young birds can be counted in such associations (Zarudny, 1896).

Males spend less time with the brood than females, on which all the care of the chicks rests. Most often, it is the female that leads the brood to a watering place, the brood moves slowly in a scattered or closed group. According to Zarudny (1896), the female, bringing small chicks to water, hides them among the stones, and she goes to the source and fills the goiter with water (sometimes at least “one and a half large glasses of water” appear in the goiter). Returning to the chicks, she watered them from her beak. In danger, the chicks scatter and hide under the stones, although they can deftly hide in even places. When the danger has passed, the female returns to the brood, casts a voice and calls the chicks. In the warm season, from spring to late autumn, desert partridges often come in the afternoon along with chummies near watering places, moving away from them only in the evening for feeding and overnight. They are more shy than cupcakes. Having noticed a man, the brood hides and takes off only when he approaches a few steps. But the same flock, frightened a second time, no longer lets the hunter go closer than 100-150 steps. After the shot, in contrast to the Keklik, the brood does not break, but flies in a tight flock (Shlyakhtin, 1896).

A study of 44 goiters and stomachs of birds obtained in Turkmenistan showed that in the summer, the desert partridge is used to feed 28 species of plants, in the fall of 16, in the winter of 13 species, and a total of 46 species.In all seasons of the year, seeds and fruits prevail in the diet. In the summer months, the fruits of the field passeriformes, the crane beetle and the goldbachia smooth are preferred. In autumn, the most eaten are the seeds of open-cut kachima, field passeriformes and sainfoin finely flowered, but at the same time, bulbs of wild onions are in first place by weight. In winter, both the frequency and mass of leaves are dominated by the viviparous bluegrass leaves and bulbs, the fruits of the passeriformes, and the masses are the fruits of Velcro small-fruited and noea genus prevail in frequency. Thus, the fruits of the passeriformes are a favorite food of the desert partridge in all seasons of the year.

To the characteristic of the seasonal change in nutrition, we add that in the summer due to reproduction, which requires high energy costs, feed is eaten not only more in mass, but also in variety (28 species). In the summer, 23 goiter and stomach were examined. Their mass ranged from 0.5 to 7.8 g, an average of 3.2 g. The weight of the stomachs in winter ranged from 0.3–5 g, an average of 1.8 g. Only one partridge goiter, harvested on June 26, had a mass of 7.8 g, while the goiter and stomach had partridges, harvested on January 30, weighed only 1.55 g.

It is interesting that 46 species of plants found in the goiter and stomachs of the desert partridge are, with the exception of barley, representatives of the wild flora characteristic of the foothills and lower mountain zone. This is by no means accidental, because this species lives here mainly. Consequently, fodder biotopes are located almost in the same place as nesting biotopes, or near them.

In winter, gastrolitis in the stomachs is common and often make up at least half of their contents. In the summer and autumn months, tours are found in small quantities.

Small material on the nutrition of the desert partridge was collected on Kurendaga (Kolesnikov, 1956): 4 goiter and 4 stomachs of birds obtained in November were examined. Burachnik seeds were found in all goiter and 2 stomachs, cloves in 3 goiter and 3 stomachs, cruciferous and buckwheat seeds in 2 goiter and 2 stomachs, and in 1 goiter some dicotyledonous seeds. G astrolites are found in all stomachs. In 5 birds we got there in late April, the stomachs and goiters were densely packed with green mass containing seeds, flowers and fruits of wild plants.

For Tajikistan, there are indications that, from early spring to the end of April, green parts of plants were in the scanned goiter, and as the vegetation burned out, locusts, beetles and other insects began to come across more often (Abdusalyamov, 1971). It is also indicated that insects in significant quantities are eaten only by chicks, while adults consume them little (Ivanov, 1969). The rest of the year in southwestern Tajikistan, partridges feed on seeds, leaves, and underground parts of plants in the foothill zone.

In the south of Uzbekistan, in the Surkhandarya basin and on the Kugitang, 43 goats and stomachs contained seeds, tubers, bulbs and green parts of plants. In September and October, only the seeds of wild plants were found in the stomachs of 32 birds. Birds drank salt and fresh water, and those who consumed fresh water were more infected with helminths than those who used salt water (Salikhbaev and Ostapenko, 1964).

So, adult partridges are almost entirely herbivorous birds. Food is sought on the ground. Underground parts of plants are mined with paws and beak. Chicks are fed various insects. In adult food, insects are found mainly only during the period of chicks' driving and play an insignificant role in the diet of adult birds. Their food is most diverse not in winter (Kuzmina, 1977), but in summer (Rustamov, Kogan, 1954). At this time of the year, the feed is coarse and dry, so birds are often forced to attend watering places.

Economic value, protection

The Desert Partridge is an excellent game and, in comparison with pheasant and mullet, has more tender and juicy meat. Therefore, in some places it attracts the attention of hunters and is mined in a relatively large number (in a number of areas it is beaten out completely - R. P.). So, in the Surkhandarya basin, one hunter caught 120 partridges during the winter, and another caught 40 birds poaching from the spring in a day (Salikhbaev and Ostapenko, 1964). However, in view of the smaller abundance and secretive way of life than that of Keklik, it is not an object of fishing anywhere. Relatively little of it is caught because this bird is 2 times smaller than chamomile.

Hunting periods are not respected in some places, quite a lot of birds are withdrawn from the populations. Streamlining hunting terms, production standards, as well as carrying out biotechnological measures, together with other protective measures, can help increase the number and economic importance of the species. First of all, partridge hunting should begin in November, and not in October, as is often the case. This is necessary in order to enable young birds to grow up late broods, and adults to increase body weight in preparation for winter: in October, the mass of adult birds is 200–230, and in December 250–300. The autumn hunting season should not be prolonged longer than December, and shooting birds at the springs and any net fishing should be strictly prohibited.

Considering that desert partridges tolerate captivity in zoos in Central Asia, their keeping and breeding in aviaries of hunting farms can be recommended.