Already a subscriber? Sign in Don't have a subscription? Subscribe Now
Alectoris chukar
– Family
Authors: Christensen, Glen C.

Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!

Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.

If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.

Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.


Adult male Chukar; Kern Co., CA; September
Figure 1. Distribution of Chukar Partridge in North America.

The Chukar Partridge was first introduced into North America in 1893 (Cottam et al. 1940), when 5 pairs were shipped to Illinois from Karachi, India (now Pakistan). Further introductions proliferated in the decades following: Between 1931 and 1970, for example, roughly 795,000 Chukars were released in 41 states in the U.S. (including Hawaii), and 10,600 birds were released in 6 Canadian provinces (Christensen 1970).

The preferred habitats of this species are found in the Great Basin of the western United States and north through eastern Oregon, western Idaho, and eastern Washington where steep rocky mountainous terrain harbors a mixture of brush, grasses, and forbs. Although the Chukar inhabits some agricultural lands adjacent to rocky canyons or mountainous areas, it thrives on the overgrazed open ranges of the West, where no agriculture exists. Its primary foods are the leaves and seeds of annual and perennial grasses (primarily the introduced cheatgrass [Bromus tectorum]) and the seeds of various forbs associated with the sagebrush-grass vegetational type of the Great Basin or the saltbush-grass type in more southern areas.

Old World accounts about the Chukar are limited and deal primarily with taxonomy, distribution, and some basic life history. There has been a pronounced increase, however, in the scientific attention given to this bird since its establishment in North America (late 1940s to the present).

Studies initiated by state wildlife management departments and by universities have provided much new information on the ecology of this species and have spawned a host of new studies evaluating the management of this bird as a game species.

The Chukar has become a favorite of western sportsmen and ranks first in harvest among upland game birds in Nevada and Oregon, second in Washington, and third in Idaho. Chukar hunting is popular largely because of the attraction of pursuing a challenging quarry over large tracts of public land and the expectation of generally liberal season lengths and bag limits.