There are around seven species of Alectoris partridge alive today, which together occupy a range extending from Western Europe across to China, and from the Mediterranean south into India. They are absent from sub-Saharan Africa, and as a group they prefer sandy habitats with much less plant cover than the Perdix partridges, which probably explains why they were not native to the UK.
Unfortunately for the British population, it was discovered that hybrids of Red-Legged and Chukar partridges were even more prolific in captivity, and many were released, thus polluting the gen pool of the wild breeding birds, whose productivity declined. Releasing of hybrids has now ceased, and the productivity has recovered, aided by the large numbers of pure Red-Legged that are now released instead. This makes the British population of some importance globally, as the native Red-Legged in its natural range of France and Spain is declining as a result of agricultural changes, although the IUCN still lists it as Least Concern.
Next week – grouse
(images from wikipedia)