Monday, May 30, 2011

The Chubby Chukar

Did you know that the Chukar was brought from India/Pakistan to the western United States as a game bird?  Birds of North America Online informs me that in 1893 five pairs were released.  Between 1931 and 1970 almost a million more Chukar were released in the United States and Canada.  They seem to have survived in the arid west and have established strong self-sustaining feral populations.  Chukar are still hunted extensively by hunters who like the physical challenge of chasing them up their preferred steep, rocky, and over-grazed habitat which is very common in the intermountain west.

Chukar eat the seeds of cheatgrass.  Although romanticized by Steinbeck in East of Eden in the lush Salinas Valley of California, cheatgrass everywhere else is an invasive and noxious weed.  Dry cheatgrass is also a major concern as it is prime fuel for range fires.  I guess Chukar need to be a part of firewise planning by the BLM!

Leslie Gulch - eastern Oregon - prime Chukar country
Chukar do need water sources nearby and can often be found consistently in specific locations where they habitually come down for water in the morning and evening.  If you ever get the chance, go to Leslie Canyon in eastern Oregon and camp out so that you can awake to the Chukar chorus.  There's nothing like it!


  1. ...interesting. He definitely doesn't look like a native species. I love his markings...

  2. @Kelly - Chukar are pretty cool. Every once in awhile, folks will report them in town. I know that some hunters still raise and release them, so it isn't always easy to know if they are wild or not.

  3. Robert, I so miss seeing chukar! They look like clown-faced birds to me! I love them!

    BTW, you are not the only one who finds birds in or near parking lots! ;) Stop by to see what I mean!