|Conservation status||North American population may be lower now than in 1950s, but still widespread, common in many areas.|
|Family||Pheasants and Grouse|
|Habitat||Cultivated land, hedgerows, bushy pastures, meadows. Mostly lives in grasslands and agricultural fields. Farmland is excellent habitat as long as hedgerows and shelterbelts are left between fields. In winter often in stubble fields, moving into edges of woodlots in harsh weather.|
Forages in coveys most of year, alone or in pairs in spring. Takes most food from ground. In winter, may burrow into snow to reach seeds on ground.
Usually 12-18, sometimes up to 22 or more, sometimes fewer than 10. Fewer eggs in later clutches. Eggs buff, brown, or olive. Incubation begins after last egg is laid; until that time, eggs are covered with grass and weeds when female is away from nest. Incubation is by female only, 21-26 days, usually 25. Young: All eggs usually hatch on same day, and downy young leave nest together with parents. Both parents tend young and may lead them directly to food, but young feed themselves. Young can make short flights at less than 2 weeks, may be full-grown at 3-4 months, remain with parents through first winter.
All eggs usually hatch on same day, and downy young leave nest together with parents. Both parents tend young and may lead them directly to food, but young feed themselves. Young can make short flights at less than 2 weeks, may be full-grown at 3-4 months, remain with parents through first winter.
Mostly seeds, also leaves and insects. Eats seeds from a wide variety of plants, including many grasses and weeds, also waste grain from crops such as wheat, oats, corn, sunflower. Seeds are most of diet in fall and winter; eats more green leaves in spring, insects in summer. Young chicks eat mostly insects.
In courtship, male stands upright, flicks tail up and down, puffs out chest feathers to display dark belly patch and barred flanks; female approaches with bobbing movements of head. Nest site is on ground among dense cover, sometimes in open field but more often under hedgerow or shelterbelt or on brushy roadside. Nest (built by female, with male keeping watch nearby) is a shallow scrape lined with grass, leaves.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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North American populations apparently do not migrate. Some in eastern Europe may move south in particularly harsh weather.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsHoarse kee-ah; when flushed, a rapid cackle.
Learn more about this sound collection.