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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Chukar - Alectoris chukar

Exotic Species (not native to Montana)

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
General Description
Sexes are identical in appearance, with white cheeks and throat separated from the breast by a necklace of black. Adults are grayish brown to olive above, grading to gray on the chest. The sides are buff, with conspicuous black and chestnut vertical stripes, and the belly is buff. The outer tail feathers are reddish-brown. The bill, feet, and legs are red. Adult males and females range from 13 to 15 inches in length; adult males average 19.6 ounces in weight, and adult females, 15.7 ounces.

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Gray (Hungarian) Partridges are somewhat smaller than Chukars, and have grayish-brown bodies with cinnamon-colored heads.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 76

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


(direct evidence "B")

(indirect evidence "b")

No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")

(regular observations "W")

(at least one obs. "w")


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Habitat consists of steep, rocky, semi-arid country with an abundance of cheatgrass and brushy draws. In western Montana they used brushy areas all year; were near springs late in summer; and grain fields in winter. Semi-arid lands with shrubby cover near steep, rocky hills is used (Davis 1961). They are most successful in sagebrush-juniper or sagebrush-bitterbrush with cheatgrass and bunchgrasses (Mussehl 1971).

Food Habits
In western Montana they prefer green grass leaves, cheatgrass seeds and grains. In early spring the diet is green grass and forb leaves; in summer it is seeds and insects; in late summer and fall it is chokecherries; and in winter waste grain, seeds, and grass and forb leaves are eaten (Mussehl 1971).

Reproductive Characteristics
In western Montana broods average 8.1 young and the average hatching date is June 29. In Washington nesting begins in early April, and hatching begins in late May and June (Johnsgard 1986). Nesting chronology may be much the same in Montana.

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Citation for data on this website:
Chukar — Alectoris chukar.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on October 27, 2016, from