Black partridge (Melanoperdix nigra)

Black partridge
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Black partridge fact file

Black partridge description

GenusMelanoperdix (1)

The black partridge is easily identified by its distinctively short, thick bill, and by the glossy black plumage of the male, for which it is named (2). By contrast, the female is a rich chestnut brown, usually with a paler, creamy-coloured throat, abdomen and vent (2) (4). Both have grey legs and feet (4).

Also known as
Black wood-partridge.
Perdiz de Bosque Negra, Perdiz Negra.
Size: c. 24 – 27 cm (2)
c. 260 g (2)

Black partridge biology

Information on the biology, ecology and life history patterns of the black partridge is extremely scarce (2). Young chicks have been observed in August and September in Peninsula Malaysia, in mid-July and late October in Borneo, and slightly older young were seen in mid-December in Sumatra (5). In Borneo, a clutch of two eggs was found in January, one of three in May, and three of five eggs in September (2). The nest is a simple depression in the ground lined with dead leaves (5), and in captivity, incubation lasts for 18 to 19 days (2).

There is no information available on the diet of this species (2) (5).


Black partridge range

Two subspecies of black partridge are currently recognised: M. n. nigra is known from Peninsula Malaysia and Sumatra (Indonesia), and M. n. borneensis is known from Borneo, including Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia), and Kalimantan (Indonesia) (2) (4).


Black partridge habitat

The black partridge is found in primary lowland forest, closed-canopy evergreen forest in Malaysia, and peat-swamp forest in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia (2) (4). Recorded from sea level up to 1,200 metres in Ulu Barito, Kalimantan (2).


Black partridge status

The black partridge is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix III of CITES in Malaysia (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Black partridge threats

The scarcity of records of this species makes population estimates difficult, but it is presumed to be declining due to the catastrophic speed of lowland forest destruction within its range. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation are the result of large-scale commercial logging, even within protected areas, and widespread clearance for plantations of rubber and oil-palm. Drought fires on Sumatra and Borneo also appear to be increasing in frequency and severity, and are likely to be having a negative impact on the black partridge and its habitat. Hunting for food may pose an additional threat in some areas (4).


Black partridge conservation

The black partridge is known to occur in 16 protected areas, but even some of these are evidently threatened with habitat destruction and degradation, so cannot guarantee the survival of this species (5). It is important that this rare bird is given full protection under Malaysian and Indonesian law, and that ‘protected areas’ are appropriately safeguarded from the rampant deforestation that ravages the region (4), if the diversity of life they support is to have any chance of long-term survival.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the black partridge see:



Authenticated (24/11/2006) by Dr. John P. Carroll, Chair of the IUCN-SSC/BirdLife International/WPA Partridge, Quail and Francolins Specialist Group.



Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2008)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World - New World Vultures To Guineafowl. Vol. 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (August, 2006)
  4. BirdLife International (August, 2006)
  5. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Black partridge  
Black partridge

© John Corder / World Pheasant Association

World Pheasant Association
Biology Field Station
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE15 0HT
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1661 853397
Fax: +44 (0) 1661 853397


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