The Chukar Partridge

Alectoris chukar

Quick Facts

Common Name: Chukar partridge, or simply chukar

Scientific Name: Alectoris chukar

Diet: Mostly seeds and vegetable matter, although young birds will eat insects

Nesting: Nests on the ground, laying 9-12 eggs, and which are incubated for 23-25 days

Life span: Hardy and disease-resistant, chukars have been known to live up to 10 years

A female chukar (hen), sitting on her nest.

Description

The most distinguishing features of this attractive bird are the vivid black and white stripes that decorate the wings and the black band that runs across the eyes, resembling a blindfold. The sexes are similar in size and looks, but the female is slightly smaller and lacks a leg spur. Typical heights are 12-15 inches, the wingspan up to 20 inches, and weight 16-20 ounces. Although it is a strong and fast flier over short distances, the chukar typically remains on the ground.

Native to southern Eurasia, the chukar was introduced to North America as a game bird in the early 1900s. They live in arid to semi-arid high-elevation shrublands. Cheatgrass is their most prominent food source, so they can be found in grassy patches of steep rocky hillsides. They do not migrate seasonally, although they may descend to lower elevations during winter months.

Three chukar chicks, also called cheepers

Did you know?

  • Chukars are found in groups, called coveys, that contain 5-40 individuals
  • Their most common call is a loud “chukar-chukar-chukar” that gives this partridge its name
  • ¬†They can find water as deep as 10 feet below ground
  • It will feign an “injured-wing” when its nest is threatened, in order to distract the predator and lead it away from the chicks
  • Primary nest-raiders include magpies, ravens, and gopher snakes
chukarrangemap

Chukar range map