The Madagascan Partridge adult female has dull brownish plumage overall, with dark-edged feathers involving scalloped or scaled pattern below. The upperparts are dark brown with narrow buff barring, buffy white shaft-streaks bordered black, and pale cinnamon-buff feather’s tips.
The immature resembles female.

The Madagascan Partridge occurs throughout Madagascar except in extreme south. The species has been introduced to Reunion around 1845.

The Madagascan Partridge frequents forest areas and brushland, and often secondary habitats. But it can be found in grassland, scattered Eucalyptus plantations and weedy farmland, but it usually avoids closed-canopy woodland. The species occurs from sea-level to 2,700 metres in Madagascar.
On Reunion, it frequents bushy areas with good ground covert, up to 2,400 metres of elevation.

The Madagascan Partridge is usually rather silent. It gives low “bub…bub…” repeated several times as contact call. If the bird is flushed, it utters soft rolling, chuckling or high-pitched trilling notes in rapid succession. We can also hear some quieter calls. The alarm call is “poa-poa-poa” or a low “peet”. A low “weee-oooooooo” could be an advertising call, but it is only audible over 6-12 metres.

The Madagascan Partridge feeds on seeds, berries and insects in Madagascar, whereas on Reunion, the diet includes tubers, insects, grubs and slugs.
This bird is very terrestrial and forages by walking slowly. It scratches the ground with the feet and picks at plant matter, and it may sometimes rush on insects in tall grasses and shrubs.

The Madagascan Partridge roosts at night on the ground, in dense vegetation. When alarmed, it stands erect and runs rapidly or flies over short distance. It is usually seen alone or in pairs, sometimes in groups of 5-8 individuals.

The breeding behaviour has been studied only in captivity. The Madagascan Partridge is territorial and lives in pairs. Some fights occur between male and female before pairing. They have strong pair-bonds and both mates remain together. The male displays in front of the female while uttering dove-like “coo” and performs courtship feeding, by offering seeds or live prey to the female. The male protects her strongly from intruders.

The Madagascan Partridge is presumably sedentary.
When flushed, it rises while calling and flies over 50-100 metres. It flushes heavily with loud wingbeats, and flies straight and slowly above the ground. The flight is direct and fast with powerful wingbeats interspersed with glides.

The breeding season extends at least from November to June in Madagascar and from November to March on Reunion.
The nest of the Madagascan Partridge is a depression on the ground, well-hidden in tuft of grass or under a bush.  

The female lays 8-20 brown to green-buff eggs with dark markings. She incubates alone during 18-19 days (in captivity).
The downy young are pale buffy-brown above. They have a dark brown stripe on sides of crown, and a second stripe down each side of the body. A blackish stripe occurs below the eye. Head sides, neck and underparts are dark buff with paler chin and throat.
They are precocial and able to feed and move about straight away. They are led to feeding sites by adults and then, they feed themselves.

The Madagascan Partridge is still widespread and relatively common on the island. The secondary habitats are not threatened, but rest of habitat is destroyed by annual fires for conversion of brushland to grassland, and the species is also affected by hunting pressure involving the decline of the population. This bird is vulnerable to natural predators such as Madagascar Harrier-Hawk and fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), a cat-like carnivorous mammal.
However, from recent survey, reduction of hunting is suspected to involve genuine increase of the population.       
The Madagascan Partridge is not globally threatened and currently evaluated as Least Concern.

Fr: Caille de Madagascar - Caille perlée de Madagascar
Ang: Madagascan Partridge
All: Perlwachtel
Esp: Perdiz Malgache
Ita: Pernice del Madagascar
Nd: Madagaskarpatrijs
Sd: madagaskarhöna
Mal: Kipoy, Traotrao, Tsipoy

Illustration’s authors:

Nicolas Huet (1770-1830) & Jean Gabriel Prêtre (1768-1849)

Illustration’s origin: Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 2 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334156

The Birds of Africa: Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mascarenes - Par Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1408190494, 9781408190494- Editeur: A&C Black, 2013

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

Partridges, Quails, Francolins, Snowcocks, and Guineafowl: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 1995-1999 – By Philip J. K. McGowan – Editeur: IUCN, 1995 – ISBN: 2831702690, 9782831702698

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Marwell Zoo - Madagascan partridge

Birds of the World - A blog dedicated to the thousands of bird species that fly, swim or walk on our planet.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


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Madagascan Partridge
Margaroperdix madagarensis

Galliformes Order – Phasianidae Family

The Madagascan Partridge is endemic to Madagascar where it is relatively common except in extreme south.
This species frequents a variety of forest habitats including both humid and dry areas. It feeds on seeds, berries, other plant matter, insects and various invertebrates.
The male’s plumage is very beautiful with contrasting colours and interesting pattern, whereas the female shows cryptic plumage overall, making her almost invisible when she is incubating on the ground.
The Madagascan Partridge is threatened by degradation and loss of the habitat, and by hunting pressure. But the species is not globally threatened in spite of declining population.

Length: 26-30 cm
Weight: 220-250 g

The Madagascan Partridge adult male has black, white and rufous plumage.
On the upperparts, mantle and scapulars are chestnut-brown with blackish barring. Each feather shows whitish shaft-streak with dark borders. Rest of upperparts is dark brown with narrow cinnamon-buff bars and long, whitish shaft-streaks with black border. On the tail, the rectrices are dark brown and finely barred with buff, and show whitish shaft-streaks and cinnamon-brown tips. On the upperwing, the flight-feathers are dark grey-brown with paler borders, bars and tips.

On the underparts, chin and throat are black, and centre of upperbreast is dark chestnut. Lower breast and upper belly are black with conspicuous buffy-white spots. The chestnut-brown flanks show buffy-white central streaks with black borders. A narrow, grey band separates flanks from spotted underparts. Lower belly and thighs are grey-buff with dark bases to feathers. The undertail-coverts are grey-buff with dark tips. The underwing-coverts are cinnamon-buff with dark brown spots.

On the head, the crown is chestnut-brown with blackish spots and a row of fine buff streaks forming a central stripe. We can see two narrow white stripes, one extending from above lores and eyes to upper side of neck, and the second one from gape and through cheeks to lower side of neck. They are separated by a broad, dark grey band.
The two-tone bill has black upper mandible and bluish-grey lower mandible with dark tip. The eyes are dark reddish-brown. Legs and feet are pale grey with darker scaled effect. It has a small hind claw but lacks the spurs, unlike the true partridges.  

Nicolas Huet (1770-1830)

Jean Gabriel Prêtre (1768-1849)