The study was carried out in 1994-96 in an area of western Poland where field sizes range widely —from < 1 to 50 ha. The spring population density of Partridges was estimated by call counts on 1 km2 study plots. The landscape structure was described by the proportion of crops and orchards, the number of arable fields and the length of permanent cover with spontaneous vegetation. Radio-tagged individuals (24 pairs and 6 single males) were tracked during the breeding season. The Partridge density in the study plots ranged from 0 to 7.7 pairs per km2, and increased with the number of fields per km2 and the proportion of small orchards among the arable fields. Radio-tagged pairs on small fields (< 10 ha) preferred field edges with permanent treeless plant cover and edges without permanent plant cover. On large fields (> 10 ha), a preference was shown for field edges with both wooded and treeless permanent plant cover. Partridges avoided the centres of both types of fields. Preferred nesting sites were in permanent plant cover and orchards; crops were used less frequently than expected. The spring carrying capacity of the field habitat for Partridges was dependent on the availability of field edges, including those devoid of permanent plant cover.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2