Common Name
CHUKAR

Scientific Name
ALECTORIS CHUKAR

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Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The chukar partridge, Alectoris chukar, is also known as the chukar and the Indian chukar.

Bird length is 14 to 15 inches and the average weight is about 20 ounces. Both sexes have buffy-gray backs and wings with gray-tinged cap, breast and rump. The sides are boldly striped with slanting bands of black and chestnut. The throat and cheeks vary from white to tan bordered with a band of black extending from the top of the beak backward through the eyes an down the neck to the upper breast, forming a conspicuous "V" where they join. The bill, legs, and feet are red. Males usually have slightly larger spur-like knobs on the back of the lower legs.

Chukars prefer steep, rocky, semi-arid slopes. Low shrubs and rocky outcrops provide loafing or escape cover. Rabbit-brush, sagebrush, saltbush, and cheat grass vegetative associations below the juniper tree belt seem to be preferred. Water sources may be used extensively in late summer. Talus slopes with boulders large enough to conceal the birds seem preferred. Rocky slopes are to chukars what sagebrush is to sage grouse.

Chukars usually pair by mid-March. Nesting commences in late April or May. The nest is built on the ground, usually concealed by low-growing shrubs or clumps of grass. Incubation of the 10 to 20 buff, brown spotted eggs requires about 24 days. Males do not assist in incubation or care of the young.

Grass seeds, weed seeds, green leaves, and flowers are the principal food items. If available, waste grains and wild fruits are readily taken. Numerous insects are consumed during the summer. In winter, new growth cheat grass is extremely important.

The chukar is a native of the Middle East and Southern Asia. Intensive effort to establish this species in Utah began in 1951. By 1968, 186,000 chukars had been released at 191 different sites. This wide distribution, largely on public lands, provides the potential for increased hunter participation and harvest.

Sources:

  • Text modified from: Rawley, E. V., W. J. Bailey, D. L. Mitchell, J. Roberson, and J. Leatham. 1996. Utah upland game. Publication number 63-12. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City.

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