Ash-bathing

The definition of a grey partridge
The definition of a grey partridge

Just worth including this picture of one of my captive partridge hens enjoying a dust bath. I posted last week about released partridges using molehills for dustbathing purposes, and it made me look into partridge dust baths just out of interest. My birds have had access to sharp sand since I first got them in July, and while they do use it for bathing to some extent, it didn’t exactly drive them wild. Reading around in some old rearing guides from the 1930s, I found a short note at the bottom of a page which said that captive partridges love using wood ash for dust baths.

As an experiment, I emptied out the tray from the woodburner into an old roasting tin and placed it next to the feeder in the largest breeding pen. During the time it took to go in and put the kettle on, a huge cloud of ash had been stirred out of the pen. On closer inspection, both birds were furiously rubbing themselves into the ash and were taking such obvious delight in it that it was a pleasure to see. I improvised trays for all of the other breeding pens, and soon the garden was under a pall of ashy smoke. In future, I’m going to stir the ash in with the sharp sand (which also has some grit and mussel shell in it) so that all my partridges always have a rough mix of both.

It’s important that they are all happy as we approach the day of the first egg. My GCT guide tells me to expect the first eggs on around the 20th April, but I assume that this year could well be later than normal. After all, there is still no sign of the first wheatear…

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