Alectoris chukar (Chukar)

Chukars are distinctive gray birds with cream and white barring on the wings, and a cream colored throat with a black margin that extends through the eye. Males and females look alike, and both make the chuk-ar call for which this bird is named. They were introduced from Eurasia in the 1930s, and quickly naturalized. They live in steep, arid, rocky habitats, particularly favoring riparian canyons with a good cover of cheatgrass and sagebrush. They prefer to nest on the cooler northern slopes, and winter on windswept slopes with southern exposure.
They are primarily seed eaters, but also consume green leaves, berries, and some insects, primarily grasshoppers.
When spooked from below these powerful runners will often sprint uphill. If flushed from above they will fly directly downhill with a sharp veer just before landing.
They are prolific breeders with up to 20 eggs in a clutch, and the female will even occasionally lay a smaller clutch for the male to incubate.
They are found throughout the arid interior of our region. The ones shown here were found in Swakane Canyon in Chelan County, Washington.

Size- 13” tall
Habitat- steep, rocky slopes, particularly riparian canyons with cheatgrass and sagebrush
Range- Arid interior of our region
Eats- Seeds, green leaves, berries, insects

2 thoughts on “Alectoris chukar (Chukar)”

  1. There have been sitings of Chukars in Anchorage Alaska. They’re often used by hunting dog trainers as live prey, which sounds rather distressing, and are assumed to have escaped captivity. I’ve understood they may not make it through the long winters here and are not likely to become established. While I’m not an advocate for introducing new potentially invasive species, I think these birds are striking and quite beautiful.

    1. Yes, it’s unlikely they will naturalize. Probably mostly because of the dampness. Chicks wouldn’t survive spring in Alaska. Cool birds though!Always fun to see!

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