Fourteen subspecies of Alectoris chukar are currently recognized. Populations in North America are thought to derive from an Indian subspecies, A. c. chukar, though several subspecies have probably intermixed. The native distribution ranges across mountainous areas of the Middle East and Asia from eastern Greece and southeastern Bulgaria through Asia Minor east to Manchuria China. The chukar has been successfully introduced to North America, Hawaii and New Zealand as a game species. In North America, successful populations have established themselves in mountainous, rocky, arid areas throughout the western states and the current distribution is centered around the Great Basin area, including Nevada, western Utah, southwestern Idaho, northeastern California, and southeastern Oregon. In the east, game farm birds are released for hunting, but successful populations have not established themselves (Christensen 1996; Del Hoyo 1994).
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Native ); australian (Introduced ); oceanic islands (Introduced )
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
America and is locally established from south-central British Columbia
south through eastern Washington, Idaho, and central and eastern Montana
to Baja California Norte, southern Nevada, Utah, and eastern Colorado.
Small populations of uncertain status have been reported from Arizona,
New Mexico, western South Dakota, and southern Alberta [4,8].
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
3 Southern Pacific Border
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
Occurrence in North America
Global Range: Native to Eurasia. Introduced and resident in North America, from British Columbia, northern Idaho, central and eastern Montana south to northern Baja California, southern Nevada, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and south-central Colorado. Also Hawaii (established on all main islands except Oahu) (AOU 1983).
Alectoris chukar is a medium-sized partridge. Males (510-800g) are slightly larger than females (450-680g) in length and mass. Plumage pattern is similar for both sexes and distinctive among game birds of North America. Chukars are gray-brown above with a buff belly. A dark black line across the forehead, eyes, and down the neck contrasts the white throat from the gray head and breast. Flanks are prominently barred black and white-chestnut and the outer tail feathers are chestnut. Bill, margins of eyelids, legs and feet are corral pink to deep red or crimson. Both sexes can have a small tarsal spur, but usually this is characteristic of males. Juveniles are smaller and are mottled brown and gray, with only slight brown barring on flanks. In its native habitat, coloring can vary geographically; birds in more arid areas tend to be grayer and paler (Christensen 1996; Del Hoyo 1994; National Geographic Society 1999).
Range mass: 510 to 680 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Length: 36 cm
Weight: 619 grams
Alectoris chukar can be found in North America throughout the west in steep, mountainous, rocky locations in mixed habitat types. The Great Basin area of desert shrub is representative of their preferred habitat; climate is arid to semiarid, water is generally available from scattered sources, and temperature varies. The grazed and disturbed public lands provide plentiful grasses and seeds with scattered shrubs while the rocky terrain provides cover. In North America, such areas are generally inaccessible and not near cultivated land, though they will use such areas when available. Unsuccessful attempts to introduce the chukar into other areas of North America suggest that they are already established in most suitable habitat types (Christensen 1996).
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Rocky hillsides, mountain slopes with grassy vegetation, open and flat desert with sparse grasses, and barren plateaus (AOU 1983). In North America, prefers rocky slopes in sagebrush-grassland communities where water is available. In North America, nests usually in sagebrush-grasslands on slopes of hills, on the ground, near the cover of a rock, shrub, or clump of grass, in a shallow depression lined with vegetation, leaves, and feathers.
Chukars use rocky slopes for shade and escape cover. The hottest part
of the day is usually spent in shady cover . They roost on the
ground beneath sagebrush or junipers and in the shelter of rock
outcrops. They also roost in open rocky places; dense brush cover is
not required and is probably avoided . Bohl  described chukar
roosting cover in New Mexico as follows: (1) sides of bare rocks or on
the sides of mesas, halfway up or higher, among rocks, vegetation, or in
open, (2) on the ground in open grassy flats at the tops of mesas with
junipers or rocks within 15 feet (4.6 m), and (3) under junipers at the
tops of mesas. Chukars roost in coveys, either scattered or in
tail-to-tail formations .
Nesting Cover: Chukar nests are depressions scratched in the ground and
lined with leaves and feathers, usually well camouflaged under shrubs or
among rocks [3,4].
The chukar inhabits open, rocky, dry mountain slopes, hillsides, or
canyon walls from below sea level to 12,000 feet (3,660 m) elevation
. Steep slopes appear to be preferred . Slope grade is usually
over 7 percent with a rise of at least 200 feet (60 m) . The chukar
is also found on open and flat deserts with sparse grasses and on barren
plateaus [4,16]. Nesting habitat is similar to foraging habitat: dry,
rocky slopes with open, brushy cover. In California, nesting chukars
and chukar broods are normally found within 2 miles (3.2 km) of water .
Associated Plant Communities
In North America, the key plant species for chukar habitat is cheatgrass
(Bromus tectorum). The widespread dominance of cheatgrass has made
possible the successful introduction and establishment of chukars in the
Great Basin . The chukar inhabits sagebrush (Artemisia
spp.)-grasslands, and areas vegetated with ephedra (Ephedra spp.),
bitterbrush (Purshia spp.), currant (Ribes spp.), and rabbitbrush
(Chrysothamnus spp.) . In the southern portion of its range, the
chukar may be found in saltbush (Atriplex spp.)-grasslands , and
salt-desert shrubland . Chukars generally avoid climax pinyon
(Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) habitat , although scattered
pinyons and junipers appear to be acceptable .
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon - juniper
241 Western live oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K040 Saltbush - greasewood
K055 Sagebrush steppe
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Chukars are generally opportunistic and forage on vegetation, including grass and forb seeds, green grass, forb leaves, and some shrub fruits, according to relative abundance and seasonal availability. On western rangelands, primary foods are seeds and foliage of introduced grasses and various forbs in the sagebrush community. Cultivated grains are used when available, but chukar habitat in North America is generally not near agricultural land. In Hawaii, different foods are available, but native shrub fruits and introduced herbaceous plants are still important. Young chicks primarily eat insects. Adults do not eat a significant number of insects, but are known to take locusts when available. All types of water sources are utilized by chukars and tend to dictate distribution during the hot summer months; they will stray farther from water in the winter when green vegetation is available (Christensen 1996; Del Hoyo 1994; Cole et al. 1995).
Animal Foods: insects
Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )
- Cole, F., L. Loope, A. Medeiros, J. Raikes, C. Wood. 1995. Conservation implications of introduced game birds in high elevation Hawaiian shrubland. Conservation Biology, 9: 306-313.
Comments: Feeds primarily on seeds and leaves. Also eats some fruits and insects.
During the breeding season, chukars feed in pairs. For the rest of the
year feeding occurs in coveys, usually en route to watering areas .
Coveys are usually about 20 birds; infrequently as many as 40 or more
birds will form a covey . Foraging occurs in early morning and late
In summer and fall the bulk of chukar diets is composed of cheatgrass
seeds [4,15]. Seeds of Russian-thistle (Salsola spp.), rough fiddleneck
(Amsinckia retrorsa), cutleaf filaree (Erodium cicutarium), Indian
ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), curly dock (Rumex crispus), wild onion
(Allium spp.) and mustards (Brassica spp.) are also consumed [4,7].
After autumn rains cause grasses to green up, chukars consume large
amounts of grass blades and basal shoots [3,24]; and the bulbs, stems,
leaves, and buds of a variety of plants including dandelion (Taraxacum
officinale), woodlandstar (Lithophragma spp.), and shepherd's purse
(Capsella bursa-pastoris) [4,8]. Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) and
hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) fruits are consumed during summer. A variety
of forb and shrub seeds or fruits are consumed during the winter .
Additional items reported for chukar diets in New Mexico include early
spring greens, alfalfa (Medicago spp.) leaves, seeds of Johnsongrass
(Sorghum halepense), grama (Bouteloua spp.), and other mountain grasses,
and skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata) fruits . Chukars do not utilize
legume seeds to any great degree, but do consume leaves of alfalfa,
clover (Trifolium spp.), and sweetclover (Melilotus spp.) . The diet
of young chukars includes a high proportion of insects; adult birds may
consume as much as 15 percent by volume. Animal foods consist primarily
of grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, ants, and various insect eggs
For healthy chukar populations in areas with adequate cover, losses to
predators are probably not significant. In most areas, rodents,
cottontails (Silvilagus spp.), hares (Lagopus spp.), and small birds
outnumber chukars and thus receive higher predator pressure than chukars
Nest Predators: Known predators of chukar nests include magpie (Pica
pica), ravens (Corvus spp.), and various ground predators including
gopher snake (Pituophis spp.) .
Predators of adult chukars may include coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat
(Lynx rufus), feral house cat (Felis spp.), gray fox (Urocyon
cinereoargenteus), skunks (Conepatus spp. and Mephites spp.), badger
(Taxidea taxus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), rock squirrel (Spermophilus
variegatus), ringtail (Bassiriscus astutus), mountain lion (Felis
concolor), coati (Nasua nasua), Mexican wolf (Canis lycaon), snakes,
golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus),
prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus), sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter
striatus), Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii), great horned owl (Bubo
virginianus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), northern goshawk
(Accipiter gentilis), Mexican goshawk (Asturina plagiata), zone-tailed
hawk (Buteo albonotatus), aplomodo falcon (Falco femoralis), and ravens
(Corvus spp.) .
The chukar is a popular game bird: A harvest of over 600,000 birds in
one hunting season was estimated for the United States in a 1981
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
In favorable habitat density may reach levels of 1 bird per 4 ha (Bureau of Land Management, no date). In late summer family groups may join and form larger groups. Males reportedly may leave female during incubation and spend summer with other males.
Habitat-related Fire Effects
Chukars inhabit deteriorated sagebrush-grasslands, saltbush-grasslands,
or deserts, mainly where cheatgrass is the dominant herb. Any habitat
modification that favors cheatgrass probably favors chukar populations,
given adequate water source and brushy and rocky cover. Cheatgrass
increases with fire, drought, overgrazing, and other disturbances .
Cheatgrass creates a fine, continuous fuel load which increases a
region's susceptibility to fire. Fires occur earlier in the growing
season and with greater frequency than in noncheatgrass areas, thus
accelerating range degradation and maintaining cheatgrass .
Timing of Major Life History Events
Chukars exhibit altitudinal migration, moving from higher elevations to
lower terrain during heavy snows. They may also move onto south-facing
slopes to escape inclement weather .
Chukars breed monogamously; pairing occurs from February to March or
April depending on latitude [3,13]. In New Mexico, nesting apparently
begins in April, with egg laying commencing in May; in Washington, the
average beginning date for egg laying is about April 20 . Males
appear to defend females rather than territory ; this finding is in
dispute, however . Males often desert the female after egg-laying;
in early fall males rejoin the brood during covey formation. Coveys are
formed by one or more broods [3,9], often shortly after hatching .
Clutch: Eggs are laid at a rate of one per day to one per 2 days .
Clutch size ranges from 10 to 20 eggs, with an average of 15 .
Clutch size is greatly reduced in drought years; in extreme drought,
breeding may not occur at all . Double brooding (production of two
consecutive broods in one season) was reported from captive birds, and
is suspected to occur in wild birds . Renesting following clutch
loss is normal .
Incubation: The incubation period is typically 24 days. The precocial
young leave the nest shortly after hatching [3,12,24].
Development: Individual flight attempts are usually made by about 2
weeks of age and as early as 10 days after hatching , brood flights
(where the entire brood makes a flight together) occur by 3 weeks of
age, and by 4 weeks of age the chicks have formed flight habits similar
to those of adult chukars. The brood and the adult female remain near
each other .
Life History and Behavior
Chukars use a number or vocalizations in interactions that are divided into three categories: alarm social contact, agonistic, and sexual. The most common call is a low chuck, chuck, chuck used by both sexes that changes gradually to a chukar chukar and can be heard from long distances, hence the name chukar. Communication presumably also occurs through visual cues.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Other Communication Modes: duets
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Comments: Most foraging activity occurs in mid-morning and sometimes into afternoon. In hot weather may be inactive near water at midday (Bureau of Land Management, no date).
Chukars are monogamous. Pairs form in mid-March after a male performs a courtship display involving a head-tilt and a showing of his barred flanks. Both begin to call and participate in a "tidbitting display" pecking at various objects. During drought seasons, when food is scarce, breeding may be restricted to a few birds. Males guard the female from access by other males(Christensen 1996; Del Hoyo 1994).
Mating System: monogamous
Nests are simple scrapes, sometimes lined with grass or feathers, in rocky or brushy areas. They are difficult to find and are not well studied. Clutch sizes vary with site and environmental condition between seven and twenty one. Incubation lasts approximately 24 days and is usually a female activity. Hatching can occur from May until August, depending on the success of the first clutch. Broods average around 10.5 chicks, but fluctuate. Young are precocial, or highly developed upon hatching, and are capable of flight within a few weeks. They reach adult size in 12 weeks. Males are thought to remain until chicks are reared, though some are reported to leave after clutch completion and regroup with other males. Much remains to be learned about the reproductive habits of the chukar.
Breeding interval: Chukars breed once yearly depending on environmental conditions.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs from April to July in North America.
Range eggs per season: 7 to 21.
Average eggs per season: 10.5.
Average time to hatching: 24 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous
Young are cared for by their mother and perhaps father until they reach independence. Young are precocial, they fly within a few weeks of hatching and reach adult size by 12 weeks old.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female)
- Christensen, C. 1996. Chukar: Alectoris chukar.. Pp. 1-20 in A Poole, F Gill, eds. The Birds of Noth America (0):258. Philedelphia, PA: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philedelphia.
- Del Hoyo, J., A. Elliot, J. Sargatal. 1994. Alectoris Chukar. Pp. 485-486 in Handbook of the birds of the world, vol. 2: New world vultures to guinea fowl. Barcelona: Lynx Edicons.
Clutch size is about 8-15. Incubation by female lasts 22-23 days (some authorities state male may incubate 1st clutch while female lays a 2nd). Nestlings are precocial. Young are almost full-size at 84 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Alectoris chukar
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
-- end --
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Alectoris chukar
Public Records: 12
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
Alectoris chukar are not globally threatened. In most areas, populations are stable or increasing, though habitat loss and intensive hunting may affect some local populations in their native distribution. There may be some concern for wild populations due to the possibility of disease transmission from domestic chickens and turkeys. In North America, they have been managed for hunting since their introduction. In most areas, states try to increase hunting through liberal bag-limits and long hunting seasons to overcome low yields due to the inaccessible and remote nature of their habitat. Habitat management includes developing and improving water sources. Monitoring populations through different methods of collaring and radio-transmitters has been explored (Christensen 1996; Del Hoyo 1994; Waters et al. 1994).
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Status in Egypt
Chukar density is difficult to assess. Density has been estimated to
range from one bird per 22.9 acres (9.2 ha) to one bird in just over 10
acres (4 ha). In favorable habitat densities of more than one bird per 10
acres may occur. Watering sites may attract up to 100 birds at a time
Recommended habitat for chukar introduction includes areas where up to
half the surface area consists of talus slopes, rocky outcrops, cliffs,
or bluffs. The remainder of the area should be occupied by sagebrush
and grass, particularly cheatgrass, perennial wheatgrasses (Agroypron
spp. and Pseudoroegneria spicata), and bluegrasses (Poa spp.). A water
source is a required habitat element: Chukar populations tend to
concentrate near water in hot weather and disperse when vegetation
greens up after rain . Where cheatgrass is the dominant herb, chukar
habitat can be improved by water development . Leopold 
recommended predator control immediately after release; once birds are
dispersed no predator control is necessary.
The spread of medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) into cheatgrass
ranges has raised concern over its effect on chukars. Feeding trials
established that chukars eat medusahead caryopses if nothing else is
offered, but that a sole diet of medusahead caryopses is debilitating
and probably fatal. Germinated medusahead seeds and cheatgrass seeds
were preferred over feed pellets .
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Chukars also aid in the dispersal and germination of invasive non-natives, such as cheat grass in North America. Also, they are susceptible to several avian diseases and might act as a vector for infections that can be passed from avian hosts to humans, such as Chlamydia, when raised in game-farming situations (Christensen 1996; Erbeck and Nunn 1999).
Alectoris chukar was first introduced to North America in 1893 as a game species and provides revenue to state wildlife agencies through hunting. The difficult, steep, often remote terrain they occupy provides a challenge and thrill to hunters and the meat is considered very tasty. In Hawaii, chukars have been found to occupy an important niche once occupied by now extinct native birds; they aid in the dispersal and germination of seeds from important native plants and thus may be beneficial in restoring degraded ecosystems (Christensen 1996; Cole et al. 1995).
The chukar partridge or chukar (Alectoris chukar) is a Eurasian upland gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae. It has been considered to form a superspecies complex along with the rock partridge, Philby's partridge and Przevalski's partridge and treated in the past as conspecific particularly with the first. This partridge has well marked black and white bars on the flanks and a black band running from the forehead across the eye and running down the head to form a necklace that encloses a white throat. The species has been introduced into many other places and feral populations have established themselves in parts of North America and New Zealand. This bird can be found in parts of Middle East.
The chukar is a rotund 32–35 cm (13–14 in) long partridge, with a light brown back, grey breast, and buff belly. The shades vary across the various populations. The face is white with a black gorget. It has rufous-streaked flanks, red legs and coral red bill. Sexes are similar, the female slightly smaller in size and lacking the spur. The tail has 14 feathers, the third primary is the longest while the first is level with the fifth and sixth primaries.
It is very similar to the rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) with which it has been lumped in the past but is browner on the back and has a yellowish tinge to the foreneck. The sharply defined gorget distinguishes this species from the red-legged partridge which has the black collar breaking into dark streaks near the breast. Their song is a noisy chuck-chuck-chukar-chukar from which the name is derived. The Barbary partridge (Alectoris barbara) has a reddish brown rather than black collar with a grey throat and face with a chestnut crown.
Other common names of this bird include chukker (chuker or chukor), Indian chukar and keklik.
Distribution and habitat
This partridge has its native range in Asia, including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, along the inner ranges of the Western Himalayas to Nepal. Further west in southeastern Europe it is replaced by the red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa. It barely ranges into Africa on the Sinai Peninsula. The habitat in the native range is rocky open hillsides with grass or scattered scrub or cultivation. In Israel and Jordan it is found at low altitudes, starting at 400 m (1,300 ft) below sea level in the Dead Sea area, whereas in the more eastern areas it is mainly found at an altitude of 2,000 to 4,000 m (6,600 to 13,100 ft) except in Pakistan, where it occurs at 600 m (2,000 ft). They are not found in areas of high humidity or rainfall.
It has been introduced widely as a game bird, and feral populations have become established in the United States Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, high desert areas of California, Canada, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Hawaii. Initial introductions into the US were from the nominate populations collected from Afghanistan and Nepal. It has also been introduced to New South Wales in Australia but breeding populations have not persisted and are probably extinct. A small population exists on Robben Island in South Africa since it was introduced there in 1964.
Systematics and taxonomy
The chukar partridge is part of a confusing group of "red-legged partridges". Several plumage variations within the widespread distribution of the chukar partridge have been described and designated as subspecies. In the past the chukar group was included with the rock partridge (also known as the Greek partridge). The species from Turkey and farther east was subsequently separated from A. graeca of Greece and Bulgaria and western Europe.
There are fourteen recognized subspecies:
- A. c. chukar (JE Gray, 1830) – nominate – eastern Afghanistan to eastern Nepal
- A. c. cypriotes (Hartert, 1917) – island chukar – southeastern Bulgaria to southern Syria, Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus
- A. c. dzungarica (Sushkin, 1927) – northwestern Mongolia to Russian Altai and eastern Tibet
- A. c. falki (Hartert, 1917) – north central Afghanistan to Pamir Mountains and western China
- A. c. kleini (Hartert, 1925)
- A. c. koroviakovi (Zarudny, 1914) – Persian chukar – eastern Iran to Pakistan
- A. c. kurdestanica (Meinertzhagen, 1923) – Kurdestan chukar – Caucasus Mountains to Iran
- A. c. pallescens (Hume, 1873) – northern chukar – northeastern Afghanistan to Ladakh and western Tibet
- A. c. pallida (Hume, 1873) – northwestern China
- A. c. potanini (Sushkin, 1927) – western Mongolia
- A. c. pubescens (Swinhoe, 1871) – inner Mongolia to northwestern Sichuan and eastern Qinghai
- A. c. sinaica (Bonaparte, 1858) – northern Syrian Desert to Sinai Peninsula
- A. c. subpallida (Zarudny, 1914) – Tajikistan (Kyzyl Kum and Kara Kum mountains)
- A. c. werae (Zarudny and Loudon, 1904) – Iranian chukar – eastern Iraq and southwestern Iran
Population and status
This species is relatively unaffected by hunting or loss of habitat. Its numbers are largely affected by weather patterns during the breeding season. The release of captive stock in some parts of southern Europe can threaten native populations of rock partridge and red-legged partridge with which they may hybridize.
British sportsmen in India considered the chukar as good sport although they were not considered to be particularly good in flavour. Their fast flight and ability to fly some distance after being shot made recovery of the birds difficult without retriever dogs. During cold winters, when the higher areas are covered in snow, people in Kashmir have been known to use a technique to tire the birds out to catch them.
Behaviour and ecology
In the non-breeding season, chukar partridge are found in small coveys of 10 or more (up to 50) birds. In summer, chukars form pairs to breed. During this time, the cocks are very pugnacious calling and fighting. During winter they descend into the valleys and feed in fields. They call frequently during the day and especially in the mornings and evenings. The call is loud and includes loud repeated "Chuck" notes and sometimes duetting "Chuker" notes. Several calls varying with context have been noted. The commonest call is a "rallying call" which when played back elicits a response from birds and has been used in surveys, although the method is not very reliable. When disturbed, it prefers to run rather than fly, but if necessary it flies a short distance often down a slope on rounded wings, calling immediately after alighting. In Utah, birds were found to forage in an area of about 2.6 km2 (1.0 sq mi). and travel up to 4.8 km (3.0 mi) to obtain water during the dry season. The home range was found to be even smaller in Idaho.
The breeding season is summer. Males perform tidbitting displays, a form of courtship feeding where the male pecks at food and a female may visit to peck in response. The males may chase females with head lowered, wing lowered and neck fluffed. The male may also performs a high step stiff walk while making a special call. The female may then crouch in acceptance and the male mounts to copulate, while grasping the nape of the female. Males are monogamous. The nest is a scantily lined ground scrape, though occasionally a compact pad is created with a depression in the center. Generally, the nests are sheltered by ferns and small bushes, or placed in a dip or rocky hillside under an overhanging rock. About 7 to 14 eggs are laid. The eggs hatch in about 23–25 days. In captivity they can lay an egg each day during the breeding season if eggs are collected daily. Chicks join their parents in foraging and will soon join the chicks of other members of the covey.
Chukar will take a wide variety of seeds and some insects as food. It also ingests grit. In Kashmir, the seeds of a species of Eragrostis was particularly dominant in their diet while those in the US favoured Bromus tectorum. Birds feeding on succulent vegetation make up for their water needs but visit open water in summer.
Chukar roost on rocky slopes or under shrubs. In winter, birds in the US selected protected niches or caves. A group may roost in a tight circle with their heads pointed outwards to conserve heat and keep a look out for predators.
The chukar is the National bird of Iraq and of Pakistan, where its name is derived from chakor in Sanskrit. Literary mentions of it in the northern areas of the Indian subcontinent date back to the Rig Veda (c. 1700 BC). In North Indian and Pakistani culture, as well as in Indian mythology, the chukar sometimes symbolizes intense, and often unrequited, love. It is said to be in love with the moon and to gaze at it constantly. Because of their pugnacious behaviour during the breeding season they are kept in some areas as fighting birds.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Alectoris chukar". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Rasmussen PC and Anderton JC (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 120.
- Blanford WT (1898). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 4. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 131–132.
- Watson GE (1962). "Three sibling species of Alectoris Partridge". Ibis 104 (3): 353–367. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1962.tb08663.x.
- Baker ECS (1928). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 5 (2 ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 402–405.
- Johnsgard PA (1973). Grouse and Quails of North America. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. pp. 489–501.
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In the Rig Veda the references of some Himalayan species of partridges includes black partridge, chakor partridge, snow partridge and the common hill partridge
- Temple, Richard Carnac (1884). The legends of the Panjâb. Volume 2. Education Society's Press, Bombay. p. 257.
- Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal v. 55. Asiatic Society of Bengal. 1881.
When I beheld thy face mournful, lady, I wandered restlessly o'er the world, Thy face is like the moon, and my heart like the chakor
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The birds are said by the natives to be enamoured of the moon and, at full moon, to eat fire
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Formerly regarded as a subspecies of A. GRAECA. Chukar populations in Israel comprise a rare avian example of genic divergence across short geographical distances and are a valuable scientific and conservation resource (Randi and Alkon 1994).
Gray. It is a member of the pheasant family (Phasianidae) [1,4,16].
Previously, some authorities placed it as conspecific with rock
partridge (A. graeca), but it is now considered a distinct species
[1,16]. All of the introduced North American stock is apparently A.
All information in this write-up refers to North American populations.
Indian hill partridge