Chukar -- 石鸡 (Alectoris chukar)

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Chukar fact file

Chukar description

GenusAlectoris (1)

The most distinguishing features of this attractive bird are the vivid black and white stripes that decorate the wings and the black band that runs across the eyes, resembling a blindfold. The upper body and head feathers of the birds are brown, becoming more bluish-grey towards the lower body and tail. The face is white, and the beak is short, strong, and orange in colour. Chukar chicks have cream and brown down, with pale undersides (2). There are 14 subspecies of chukar, identifiable by differences in plumage and other morphological traits (3). Chukars inhabiting more humid areas tend to be darker and more olive in colour, while those in more arid areas are a paler grey or yellow (2).

Also known as
Chuckar, chukar partridge.
Perdrix chukar.
Height: 32 – 39 cm (2)
Wingspan: 47 – 52 cm (2)
Male weight: 510 – 800 g (2)
Female weight: 450 – 680 g (2)

Chukar biology

Within its wide range, breeding times for the chukar vary, depending on location and altitude (2). This usually monogamous bird typically lays a clutch of 7 to 12 eggs, which are incubated for 22 to 25 days (2).

The diet of the birds consists mainly of shoots, grains, bulbs and, particularly during the winter, the roots of grasses and shrubs which the chukar digs out of the soil (2). In the summer, ants and insects are also included in the diet, while chicks feed primarily on the seeds of grasses and weeds (2). Foraging begins in the morning as the chukar works its way uphill searching for food. Although it is a strong and fast flier over short distances, the chukar typically remains on the ground (2).


Chukar range

The chukar has an extremely large native range, spanning countries from Eastern Europe to China, Russia and Africa. Furthermore, it has been introduced to many other areas, including the United States, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere within Europe. The species is currently regionally extinct from Kuwait (4).


Chukar habitat

A terrestrial bird, the birds prefers dry and arid habitats (2) (4), characterised by stony slopes, short grass and shrubs, often situated near cultivation (2). The chukar is commonly found at 3,000 to 4,500 metres above sea level, descending from higher altitudes in winter (2).


Chukar status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Chukar threats

The birds has a large range and a large, stable population and so is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction (1). However, in some areas the birds has been affected by habitat loss, for example in Azerbaijan (2). Harsh winters and pesticide use may affect populations in Turkey, and hunters and poachers can be a problem for this bird in the USA and Canada (2).


Chukar conservation

As the birds is not currently considered to be threatened, there are no widespread conservation measures in place for this bird (4). However, the birds has been a protected species in Turkey since 1990, due to a sharp population decrease in that area of its range (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Kept warm so that development is possible.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Referring to the visible or measurable characteristics of an organism.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. McGowan, P.J.K. (1994) Family Phasianidae (Pheasants and Partridges). In: Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (Eds.) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Randi, E. and Alkon, P.U. (1994) Genetic structure of chukar (Alectoris chukar) populations in Israel. The Auk, 111(2): 416-426.
  4. BirdLife International (March, 2010)

Image credit


© Peter Chadwick

Peter Chadwick
P.O.Box 565
Bredarsdorp 7280
South Africa
Tel: +27 (82) 373 4190


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