Photo: Marcus Hebel/Flickr Creative Commons

Chukar

Alectoris chukar

Native to the Middle East and southern Asia, the Chukar was brought as a game bird to North America, where it has thrived in some arid regions of the west. From late summer to early spring, Chukars travel in coveys, but they may be hard to see as they range through the brush of steep desert canyons. They become more conspicuous in spring, when the harsh cackling chuk chuk chukar of the territorial males echoes from the rocky cliffs.
Conservation status Firmly established in some regions of western North America.
Family Pheasants and Grouse
Habitat Rocky, grassy, or brushy slopes; arid mountains, canyons. Successfully introduced mainly around rocky cliffs, steep canyon slopes where winter snow will melt quickly, grassland mixed with sagebrush or saltbush. Needs cover of grass, brush; introduced cheatgrass is key element. Often in very dry country, but may require access to water unless it can eat plenty of green leaves.
Native to the Middle East and southern Asia, the Chukar was brought as a game bird to North America, where it has thrived in some arid regions of the west. From late summer to early spring, Chukars travel in coveys, but they may be hard to see as they range through the brush of steep desert canyons. They become more conspicuous in spring, when the harsh cackling chuk chuk chukar of the territorial males echoes from the rocky cliffs.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • adult and nestlings
Feeding Behavior

Feeds mostly on ground, but will climb into shrubs and trees for berries. Forages in flocks in winter.


Eggs

8-14, sometimes 6-20 or even more. Pale yellow to buff, spotted with reddish-brown. Incubation typically by female only, 22-24 days. Perhaps sometimes female may lay two separate clutches of eggs, and male may incubate one while female incubates the other. Young: Leave nest shortly after hatching. Tended by one parent (usually female) or by both; role of the male in raising young still not well understood. Young mostly find their own food. Able to fly at 7-10 days, reach full size in about 2 months.


Young

Leave nest shortly after hatching. Tended by one parent (usually female) or by both; role of the male in raising young still not well understood. Young mostly find their own food. Able to fly at 7-10 days, reach full size in about 2 months.

Diet

Seeds, leaves, berries, insects. Diet varies with season. Many of major food plants are also introduced from Eurasia. Grasses provide much of food (seeds, leaves). In winter may feed mostly on seeds, such as cheatgrass and Russian thistle. Eats berries of Russian olive and other plants. Spring and summer diet includes many green leaves, insects.


Nesting

In courtship, male displays by tilting head, circling female. Both members of pair go through mock feeding movements; male may feed female. Nest site is on ground, usually hidden under shrub or overhanging rock. Nest is a depression with substantial lining of grass, twigs, feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Apparently permanent resident throughout North American range. On native range in Eurasia, may move downslope in some mountainous areas, or invade some deserts in winter.

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Migration

Apparently permanent resident throughout North American range. On native range in Eurasia, may move downslope in some mountainous areas, or invade some deserts in winter.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud fast chuck-chuck-chuck; various cackling calls.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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