A native of the Middle East and Asia, chukars (Alectoris chukar) were introduced into North America as game birds in the 1930s. Subsequently these Old World members of the Pheasant Family (Phasianidae) have established themselves in rocky, grassy, brushy and arid mountainous areas of the West between 4,000 to 13,000 feet. Sagebrush is often a dominant species in their habitat.
Male and female chukars look similar, with males being slightly larger and having leg spurs. Grey brown above, chukars have flanks barred black and white. Their buffy face and throat are outlined in black. The breast is grey, the belly buff and the legs and bill are red.
Ground foragers, chukars, depending on the season, eat seeds, leaves, berries and insects. They need the cover of grass. In very dry country they need access to water or must have access to an abundance of green leaves. In the winter they forage in flocks.
Chukars, also called chukar partridges because of their close relationship to partridges, spend most of their time on the ground, taking flight only when threatened. They have distinct calls for ground predators and overhead predators.
This chukar was photographed at Honey Lake Wildlife Area in Lassen County CA.