From JoAnn working at RC Willey: Brian took this picture with his phone of a bird in our parking lot. He says its a Chukar. Is that what it is?
Avimor Bird Guy: It is hard to tell from the picture, but based on the size and posture Brian is probably correct. Chukar are usually found in steep canyons with rocky terrain where some water source is available nearby. Hunters say they are the hardest upland game birds to hunt because they move quickly in terrain that is hard for even the fittest among us to navigate. We have some Chukar here at Avimor up along Spring Valley Creek Trail. I saw dozens of them when I took a jet-boat tour up Hells Canyon on the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon border.
Here is a photo of Chukar in its typical habitat:
I would guess that the bird Brain photographed was probably a pen-raised Chukar. There are dozens of folks in the Treasure Valley that pen-raise Chukar and I have seen them around town in the oddest places before too. I suppose people raise game birds simply for the pleasure of having them around the yard or to release them for hunting. My boss at Avimor, who lives in Meridian, just a few miles from RC Willey, just moved into a home where the previous owners raised Chukar and Pheasants. The Chukar have recently disappeared from the neighborhood, so perhaps one wandered all the way up to where you work.
Part of the partridge family of birds, the Chukar is originally from Pakistan. There are now a few locations around the world where they were introduced and survive and breed in the wild. I have heard they are one of the best tasting upland game birds, so if any of my friends that are hunters get one, I'd like to taste the meat.