White-necklaced partridge (Arborophila gingica)

Also known as: Rickett's hill-partridge
GenusArborophila (1)
SizeLength: c. 25 - 30 cm (2)
Weightc. 253 g (2)

The white-necklaced partridge is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A beautiful, colourful bird, the male white-necklaced partridge (Arborophila gingica) has a striking white forehead, a black-spotted chestnut crown and nape, and a grey bill. Its squat body is oversized in comparison to its head, and it has a small neck and short, round wings (2) (3) (4). Although the white-necklaced partridge is predominantly brownish-grey, it has vibrant red legs and a golden-plumed throat, with black, white and chestnut bands across the upper breast (2) (3).

Slightly smaller than the male, the female white-necklaced partridge is equally as striking, but has chestnut and white undertail coverts rather than the black and white coverts seen in the male (2) (3). The juvenile white-necklaced partridge can be distinguished by its grey eye stripes (2).

The white-necklaced partridge has a far-carrying territorial call, consisting of a repeated two-note whistle. It often calls in duet (3) (4).

The white-necklaced partridge is endemic to China, where it has a scattered distribution in the southeast mountain ranges. It can be found from southwest Zhejing to eastern Guangxi, including Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi, and Guangdong (2) (3) (4) (5).

The white-necklaced partridge can be found in mountainous areas of south-eastern China at altitudes between 500 and 1,900 metres, where it is restricted to dense broadleaf, coniferous, or mixed forest, as well as scrub and bamboo (3) (4). It forages on the forest floor during the day, and moves to communal tree roosts at night (3).

An omnivorous bird, the white-necklaced partridge’s diet consists predominantly of seeds and fruits, as well as small animals and insects which it unearths from the forest floor (2) (6). In spring and summer it feeds at higher altitudes on fruits, such as Litsea cubeba. During autumn, this species will move to lower altitudes, where it forages for seeds, such asCasilanopsis hystrix and Poxicodendron sylvestra, as well as ants, small snails and chrysalises, which are the protective coating encasing the pupa of an insect (6).

In February, the male white-necklaced partridge becomes territorial. The female lays around five to seven eggs from April to May, in a ground nest formed of old leaves at the bottom of a shrub (6).

The hatchling white-necklaced partridge is well-developed. The adult leads the hatchling to food sources, but it is capable of feeding itself (2).

Southeast China is one of the most densely populated areas in the world (6), and demand for timber and clearing land for agriculture has destroyed and fragmented the white-necklaced partridge’s habitat (3). Large-scale deforestation has occurred since 1950, for example in Fujian, where forest reserves halved between 1949 and 1980 (5) (7). Over-grazing and frequent fires are also severely degrading areas of original forest (7).

An additional threat is hunting pressure, as the white-necklaced partridge is targeted for food and market trading (3) (8).

The white-necklaced partridge’s range is known to be near or within some protected areas, including the Mulun Reserve and Kiuwandashan Reserve in Hunajiang County (7). However, many of the protected areas are small and isolated, and conservation management is often weak (3) (5). It is not known how many areas have suitable forest habitat to support healthy white-necklaced partridge populations (3).

A 565 square kilometres reserve in Fujian, known as the Wyuishan Nature Reserve, reportedly contains the largest population of white-necklaced partridges, and this protected area, along with another 160 square kilometres reserve in Jiangxi, is believed to play a key role in the long-term survival of this species (3) (5).

Conservation recommendations include nationally protecting the white-necklaced partridge in China and enforcing a hunting ban. Further research into its habitat requirements, distribution, and abundance would determine the key sites for conservation and help to improve management measures (3).

More information on the white-necklaced partridge:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. The IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
  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. BirdLife International (September, 2011)
  4. Mackinnon, J. and Phillips, K. (2006) A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, New York.
  5. Stattersfield, A.J., Crosby, M.J., Long, A.J., Wege, D.C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World – Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, The Burlington Press, Cambridge.
  6. BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available at:
  7. Hunt, C.A.G. (2009) Carbon Sinks and Climate Change: Forests in the Fight Against Global Warming. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, UK.
  8. The World Pheasant Association (September, 2011)