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cline01 (1K)

Madagascar Partridge
(Margaroperdix madagarensis)

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cline01 (1K)



Additional Information

Breeding Season: March to June.

Breeding Age: First year.

Clutch Size: 8 to 15.

Incubation Period:: 18 to 19 days.

Description - Male: Crown reddish brown with white striping bordered with black, this plumage extends to the back and mantle; the sides of the head and throat is dark gray to black, with a white stripe above the eyes and along the sides of the throat; the upper breast is chestnut, lower breast and belly black with white oval spots; wings, flanks and tail barred buff, chestnut and black.

Description - Female: Easily distinguished from male; mostly brown overall with black "V" shaped barring on back of head, throat to lower belly where the base plumage is much lighter buff; mantle, lower back & wings dark brown with pale stripes as in male. Sexes similiar in size, the females maybe slightly larger.

Status in Captivity: Have only been in the US since the mid 1980s, still rather rare in collections. There are also small numbers kept in European aviaries.

Misc Notes: Shelter required in colder climates. Males can be aggressive towards hens. Reported to be fairly skittish in aviaries, so provide lots of ground cover for breeding & hiding. Can be kept on the ground if soil is well drained. Not recommended for beginners.

Visitor Submitted Notes: The following has been provided by Carl Garnham:

I have kept and bred Madagascar partridge since the very early days of their import into Europe (from where most or all of the US stock derived, particularly via Joe Weeks). They are amongst my favourite gamebirds.
Pair bonds, once they are formed are very strong but if two birds don't bond properly they can often fight. Males of bonded pairs will kind of coo like a dove and display frontally to hens and courtship feed them with seed or livefood. In several of my bonded pairs the male is incredibly protective of his hen so that if I go in the aviary he is torn between ushering the hen away from me and attacking me. The ushering away can look like an attack to anyone not used to keeping the species. The male will attack any part of me that he can and can be lifted clear of the ground as he grabs either a trouser bottom or a shirtsleeve. One male would even sit on my arm and try to rip my jumper sleeve to shreds, all the while cussing me. On the other hand many birds, especially the hens, will be very tame - most of mine will feed from the hand and some will allow themselves to be picked up without struggling. If the tame hen is paired, her mate goes into apoplexy.
Males are "keen" most of the year and I have had hens lay in most months, even when it's been freezing on occasion. Hens aren't always keen to accept the male so for this reason, aviaries should have the floor littered with lots of branches and brush and hens will use a foot cube nest-box with a pop-hole as a refuge. They absolutely 100% WILL NOT run as trios - PAIRS only. I have never had any go broody, no matter what I try to get them to do so.
I have VERY few problems with them apart from some bare necks where the feathers are plucked by the amorous male. A pair will produce large numbers of eggs each year and fertility/hatchability/rearability will be close to 100%. Under lights, chicks can often be severely cannibalistic. In dark brooders I have absolutely zero problems.
They are grazers on a scale you wouldn't believe - a pair will strip even a fairly large aviary bare, even of leaves from evergreen shrubs that are within reach. Greens are the ultimate bribe to tame your birds.


cline01 (1K)
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Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Johnsgard, P.A. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  • Madge, S., McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
  • Robbins, G.E.S. 1998. Partridges & Francolins, their Conservation, Breeding & Management. World Pheasant Association.
  • Stattersfield, A.J., Crosby, M.J., Long, A.J., Wege, D.C. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World, Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.


cline01 (1K)


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