The chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) is native to the mountainous regions of Asia, Western Europe and the Middle East. Its natural range includes Turkey, the Mediterranean islands, Iran and east through Russia and China and south into Pakistan and Nepal. It is native and widespread in the western Himalayas of India where it is found to an altitude of 5000m. Chukar partridges have been introduced widely for game hunters and have become established in the U.S.A., Canada, England, New Zealand and Hawaii.
In agricultural areas chukar partridges utilize the grains of barley, oats, wheat and corn; the seeds of sweet clover and bluegrass; and the green shoots of alfalfa / lucerne. The chukar partridge is a plump, upright, medium-sized partridge approximately 38 cm high with a strongly patterned head and throat, plain upper parts, strongly barred flanks and rufous outer tail feathers. A dark black line across the forehead, eyes, and down the neck contrasts the white throat from the grey head and breast.There is no seasonal variation and plumage pattern is similar for both sexes. Males (510-800g) are slightly larger than females (450-680g) in length and mass. The bill, margins of eyelids, legs and feet are coral pink to deep red or crimson. Both sexes can have a small tarsal spur, but usually this is characteristic of males. The chukar partridge is a fast runner and strong flier but it only flies short distances, usually downhill.
Chukar partridges have been introduced throughout the world but there is limited information available on their basic life history characteristics. It is thought that chukar partridges have a short life span that is demographically offset by high reproductive rates. Chukar partridges are easy to breed in captivity and can be raised under intensive captive conditions with high rates of productivity. The Indian chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar chukar) is the partridge breed used exclusively in commercial enterprises in Australia. Of the game bird species, they are considered to be one of the more easily raised in captivity.
Chukar partridges are monogamous. Pairs form in the spring after a male performs a courtship display involving a head-tilt and a showing of his barred flanks. Both begin to call and participate in a "tidbitting display" pecking at various objects. During drought, when food is scarce, breeding may be restricted
to a few birds. Males guard the female from access by other males, but are not generally considered territorial.
Chukars usually breed once yearly depending on environmental conditions, although two broods of young may be raised when nesting conditions are favourable Breeding occurs from September. Nests are simple scrapes, sometimes lined with grass or feathers, in rocky or brushy areas. They are difficult to find and are not well studied. Clutch size varies between seven and twenty one and is determined by site and environmental condition. Incubation lasts approximately 24 days and is usually a female activity.
Clutch size is greatly reduced in drought years; in extreme drought breeding may not occur at all.