The Hungarian partridge boasts a predominantly grey-brown plumage with chestnut markings and a distinctive orange face. It prefers open country, making Alberta's vast prairies, farmlands, and grasslands an ideal habitat. This ground-dwelling bird feeds on seeds, grains, and small invertebrates. Over the years, its adaptability has allowed it to flourish in Alberta's varied terrains, often in close proximity to agricultural areas. If you're lucky, you can even see them wandering about the streets of Calgary and other urban centres in the province!
Originally from Europe and parts of Asia, the Hungarian partridge was introduced to Canada in the early 1900s, primarily for hunting purposes. Alberta, with its expansive fields and suitable habitats, became one of the provinces where the bird thrived. Today, it's a staple in Alberta's upland game bird hunting scene. While not native to the region, the bird has integrated well into Alberta's ecosystems, and its presence has enriched both the province's biodiversity and its culinary scene.
The meat of the Hungarian partridge is delicate, slightly gamey, and incredibly tender. It lends itself beautifully to a range of cooking methods. Roasting the bird with aromatic herbs like rosemary and thyme brings out its natural flavours. Pan-searing, followed by a gentle braise in white wine or broth, ensures the meat remains succulent. In Alberta, it's not uncommon to find the bird paired with local ingredients like wild mushrooms, squash, or berry sauces. Its size makes it ideal for individual servings, often presented as a centrepiece in fine dining establishments. Additionally, its bones can be used to make a rich stock, ensuring no part of the bird goes to waste.