At a Glance

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.
Pheasants and Grouse, Upland Ground Birds
Low Concern
Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Western Canada
Flushes, Rapid Wingbeats, Running, Soaring

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


13-15 1/2" (33-39 cm). Bold black bars on flanks, black outline around pale throat, red bill and legs. Unlike any other North American bird, but some other Old World partridges are very similar (and are sometimes released here as game birds).
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Black, Brown, Gray, Red, Tan, White
Wing Shape
Fingered, Rounded, Short
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A loud fast chuck-chuck-chuck; various cackling calls.


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.



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.


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.

Feeding Behavior

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


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Firmly established in some regions of western North America.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Chukar. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Chukar

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.