17 OCTOBER 1931, Page 17


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sin,—In your " Country Notes " of September 12th Sir W. Beach Thomas writes : " A theory has been started that the partridge is on occasion polygamous." But this is not a new theory ; and many of those who study the habits of game birds have suspected the possibility for many years ; further- more, in my book The Art of Shooting and Rough Shoot Manage- ment I describe in detail a case of suspected polygamy which Was supported (though not proved) by the strong circumstan- tial evidence related, and I am personally quite convinced that occasionally the cock partridge may mate with two hen birds. You also state " the male partridge . . . has almost as strong an instinct as the hen to brood the eggs."

I have for many years made a special study of this question of the cock partridge incubating the er,s, and although I have observed about a thousand hen partridges on the nest I have only discovered a sitting cock on four occasions—and in each of these four cases the hen had been killed shortly before the eggs were due to chip, and the cock had then gone down on the nest to hatch the young birds out.

I should be very interested to hear of other cases where the cock partridge has been discovered actually sitting.—I am,