The gray or Hungarian partridge is distributed throughout the plains and croplands of Montana. The greatest numbers are found in the eastern two-thirds of the state. Preferred habitat consists of a mixture of cultivated and uncultivated lands: grasslands interspersed with wheat fields, weed patches, and brushy cover. Partridges select nesting sites in alfalfa, weed patches, grassy fencerows, and on grass-covered rangelands.
If food is available, these birds will remain on the open prairies throughout the winter and are capable of scratching through the snow for food. Brushy cover is important for escape and protection when the prairies are mantled with snow. Their preferred foods include barley, wheat, corn, millet, barnyard grass, pigweed, clover, and smartweed.
A highly beneficial practice for Huns is to leave grain stubble unplowed through the winter. This will provide food in the form of waste grain as well as deter soil erosion when spring runoff occurs.
The proper management of rangeland is of benefit to gray partridge as well as prairie grouse. A Prescribed Grazing plan is the key to healthy rangeland.