27 AUGUST 1927, Page 13


A sportsman, walking the other day over his acres to discover whether partridges were many or few, put up one young .bird—apparently the only chick, and close by three old birds. all of which began to play the common partridge trick. They feigned to be wounded, to trail a broken wing, in the mother partridge's fashion, when she wishes to draw attention to herself. He concluded that since the three birds could not be parents, this trick of the partridges is not in any sense a conscious device, but automatic. The point has been ably argued in Mr. Nicholson's ingenious and sensible little book, How Birds Live. Personally I disagree. I have seen one parent trail the wing and draw a dog's attention and the other mcb the dog when it began hunting for the nest. Was this co-operation automatic ? The frequency of an association of three partridges has never been well explained ; and more than one observer has seen all three maintain the relationship, and show interest in the nest throughout the breeding season. The parental instinct is probably stronger in the partridge than any other British bird. Both parents, according to good observers, fight to the death on behalf of their young against birds of prey. A moving tale of such a fight was told recently

by Mr. Batten. * * *