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Chukar Partridge

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Scientific name: Alectoris chukar

Other common names: Chuckar

The basics:
The Chukar Patridge is a successful, widely distributed little upland game bird from Europe and Asia that has been successfully introduced in many other areas of the world, including parts of the western United States. They can adapt to scrubby, wooded, or even rocky territory in hilly and mountain areas, and they may also be found in some suburbs, where feral cats are not a threat to these ground-nesting birds. They are ingenious at finding water in their sometimes arid habitats, and they have actually been observed entering mine shafts in search of water.

Appearance:
Chukars have a vaguely chickenlike profile, with strong legs that allow them to run on the ground. They are grayish birds with white faces and throats that are strongly accented by the black line through the eyes which connects to the black “bib” outline around the white throat. The flanks are also boldly marked in black and white. The sexes are not necessarily all that easy to tell apart at a glance, but the males are a bit larger and have a larger spur.

Average weight:
450 - 900 grams ( 1 - 2 lbs.)

Lifespan:
2 - 5 years

Health:
Chukars are reasonably tough partridges, but they are susceptible to the diseases that might impact any ground-nesting bird, especially one kept in a more crowded environment. Keep them and their home scrupulously clean. They can be especially susceptible to blackhead, a protozoan that causes kidney and liver damage. They can also pick up worms or Coccidiosis if they are not kept on a clean, dry floor. Larger operations have sometimes found it more practical to raise them on wire, although such a setting detracts somewhat from the beauty of the bird. Get a referral to a good avian or poultry veterinarian for the most up-to-date information.

Behavior / temperament:
In the wild, the handsome Chukar has a reputation for being evasive and a challenge to the hunter. However, human-raised and imprinted youngsters can be extremely confiding. Their tameness makes them a charming garden or aviary bird, as long as you are confident that your property is secure from those who would harm them. If you teach them to eat from your hand, you have a responsibility to make sure that their trust in human nature is never violated.

Housing:
While Chukars have been cage-bred on wires in pairs or trios of one male to every two females, they are also hardy birds that can make a fine display in a sufficiently dry (low humidity) climate, which probably explains why they have been more successfully introduced into the west than into the southern United States. They can show well in a planted aviary with dry, well-drained substrate. Partridges are tasty birds, so make sure the aviary or birdroom is secure against predators of every kind, from rodents to birds of prey and thieves. If you have an indoor birdroom with electricity, you can manipulate the lighting to provide artificially longer days, a well-known technique for increasing the number of eggs that the female will lay. Some breeders have suggested that a breeding pen for each trio can be 6 feet by 2 feet wide.

Diet:
Chukars are herbivores who have been observed consuming a wide variety of vegetable matter, including seeds and even fruit. The backbone of the diet is a high quality game bird or turkey crumble, but it should be supplemented with seeds (milky or sprouted as well as dry), chopped greens including deep green lettuces and chickweed, and chopped small fruit such as cherry tomatoes, grapes, and wild or cultivated berries. Despite being desert birds, they crave clean water, and a clean waterer should be available to them at all times.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

Egg production, Great meat birds, Good growth, training dog purposes

challenging

cannibalism, flighty animals, cage mates, beginner bird, challenge, aggresive bird, cause havoc

interesting

small size, local gun club, Artificial lighting

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