The Chukar is a member of the pheasant family. It is a rotund 13-15 inch long partridge that has a light grayish-brown back and wings and a white belly. Its head, chest and rear are gray and it has white cheeks and a white throat surrounded by a black band. It has black and white stripes on its sides and a black band across its forehead. Its bill, eyelids, feet and legs are pink to dark red. Males and females are similar in appearance.
The Chukar lives on rocky, arid hillsides and mountain slopes and canyon walls. It is also found in open and flat desert areas with little vegetation and on barren plateaus. It is an altitudinal migrator and will move from higher elevations to lower elevations during snowy weather. It is native to the mountainous areas of the Middle East and Asia from eastern Greece and southeastern Bulgaria through Asia Minor east to Manchuria China. The Chukar is a non-native species that was introduced in the North America as a game bird in the late 1800s. It can be found from British Columbia and Alberta south to California and Colorado. It has also been introduced to Hawaii.
Chukars feed on seeds, grasses, bulbs, stems, fruit and leaves. They also eat small amounts of insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets and ants.
The meat of the Chukar is white in color and has a taste and texture similar to that of quail. The meat is tender provided it is processed before 16 weeks of age.
The Chukar rarely flies, but it is a good runner and can also hop across the rocky terrain in its habitat. Except during breeding season, Chukars live in coveys of up to 40 birds. Male and female Chukars form pairs from February through April. The male performs a courtship ritual that involves head tilting and showing his barred flanks. Both the male and female will call out to each other and peck at objects on the ground. The female lays 8-15 eggs in a scrape lined with grass, leaves and feathers within the shelter of rocks or brush. The male usually leaves the female after she has laid her eggs. The chicks hatch after about 24 days and will they leave the nest and start feeding on insects shortly after hatching. They begin to fly when they are about two weeks old. The call of a Chukar consists of a series of 'chuks.'
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