Dark, chunky, medium-sized ground-dwelling bird. Distinctive male has a complex and beautiful pattern, while female is plainer and browner. Widespread in open habitats, most often grassland. Shy and inconspicuous; usually seen when explosively flushing from thick cover. Strangely quiet, which is unusual for a partridge. Found in similar habitats to quail and buttonquail, but much larger. When flushing, Madagascar Partridge has louder wings and more powerful flight.