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Rock Partridge

Image of a Alectoris graeca orlandoi

Alectoris graeca orlandoi

Resembling to other partridges, the rock partridge can be recognized for the beak and the bright red legs, the grey slate plumage with numerous dark stripes on the sides and the head with a black stripe going from the base of the beak across the eye, then under the ear and on the chest.

It is a non-migrant species, in fact it only migrates from an altitude to another, from summery areas often in high places, to the wintering areas at lower altitudes, and it is widespread along the Apennines ' chain and in Sicily, with two subspecies, distinct and different from the ones inhabiting the Alps and the Balkans.

It lives exclusively in rocky environments, interrupted by steep pastures and rocky slopes, but also with some shrubs mainly consisting – on Majella – of mountain pines. The nest is built in areas that are not easily accessible to predators, usually among rocks and camouflaged by vegetation. It searches food in pastures and screes, feeding of herbaceous essences, leaves, flowers, fruits, bulbs, seeds and shoots, a diet also including arthorpods during the summer.

It usually walks on the ground while eating and flies in a few occasions as when it is disturbed, when it does a very characteristic and noisy movement, with rapid flaps followed by a fast sliding that brings the animal to inaccessible and safe places.

In the Park the rock partridge inhabits a great part of the potentially suitable territory for the species, in particular the most favorable summer territories as well as the areas suitable to spend the wintering season, in particular where the incline, the exposure and the presence of rocks make sure that the snow not last too long.

Among those areas there are, for example, many valleys of east Majella, from the Palombaro Valley to the Taranta Valley, but also in the Orfento River Valley and on Mount Morrone. This species was deeply monitored by the Park Authority; the estimated population consists of about 700 reproductive couples, it is to say an extremely significant portion of the entire rock partridge's population that inhabits the Apennines.

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