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Upland Game Identification

A Basic Guide for Aging and Sexing the Bird in Your Hand

Photo of Species

Hungarian Partridge

Hungarian partridge are the smallest and most widespread of our resident upland game birds. While not a native, they have adapted to North Dakota's climate and habitat to populate every county in the state.

During hunting season, partridge are usually found in coveys. The coveys often flush en masse, presenting a hunter with a variety of targets. Concentrating on one bird, rather than giving in to the temptation of a flock shot, will lead to more partridge in the bag. Once you have a bird in hand, you can tell whether the bird is a male or female by looking at the shoulder area of the wing. Males generally have more rust colored wings than females, Kobriger says. Female wings are more brown, and exhibit dark brown cross bars and brown mottling on the shoulder patch. The photos below shows partridge wings with the distinct markings revealing identification of sex.

Photo of partridge wings
Left: The feather pattern on the shoulder of a Hungarian partridge wing will tell you whether the bird is a male or female. A mottled coloration overall, and brown crossbars on individual feathers, indicated this wing came from a female Hun.

Right: The soulder feathers on a male Hungarian partridge are somewhat rust-colored. Dark rust crossbars mark some of the feathers, and males do not have the dark brown stripes or mottling found on females.

Of the two photos used to demonstrate partridge age in this section, one is from a male, and one from a female. Using the information above, see if you can tell which is which before you read the captions.

You can tell whether a partridge is a young-of-the-year or adult by checking the molt and/or appearance of the outer primary wing feathers. Early in the season, if the number nine or 10 primaries are still growing, the bird is an adult, Kobriger noted. If primaries eight or seven are growing, then the bird is a juvenile.

Later in the season, when most birds have fully grown wing feathers, Kobriger says you have to look at the wear on the ninth and 10th primaries. As with many other upland game species, if the outer primaries are rounded and smooth, the bird is a adult. If the primaries are more pointed and the ends are frayed, the bird is a juvenile.

Photo of partridge wings
Left: This wing is from an adult female Hun. Note the relatively smooth tips of the outer two primary wing feathers.

Right: This wing is from a young-of-the-year male Hun. Note the frayed edges of the outer two (ninth and 10th) primary wing feathers.

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