Chukar, Chukker, Chukar Partridge, Red Legged Partridge
Alectoris chukar, more commonly known simply as chukar, is in the Phasianidae or pheasant family. The birds are originally native to southern Eurasia, and are the national bird of Pakistan. The name Chukar comes from the Urdu, Chakhoor. In Indian mythology the Chukar is believed to be in love with the moon and thought to be constantly looking at it.
Adult Chukars have a roundish body and are approximately 12 – 15 inches in length. The Chukar's throat and neck are white. The top of its head, breast and back are gray or chestnut colored. The birds have a thin red line immediately around their eyes, a red beak and red legs. Chukar appear to be wearing a black necklace enclosing a white neck and throat. The necklace extends up to form what looks like a bandit's mask across the birds' brow.
Chukars are believed to have been first introduced to the Hawaiian Islands as game birds in the early part of the 20th Century. The first officially sanctioned hunting season for the Chukar in the Hawaiian Islands was in 1952. Chukars are commonly spotted on the slopes of Mauna Kea, near the Visitor Information Station, and sometimes even as high as the 13,796' summit of the mountain. While some scientists believe that the Chukar may be a carrier of various avian diseases that could contribute to the decline of native bird species in the Islands, other researchers argue that the Chukar fills an important ecological niche once occupied by now extinct species of native ground birds. It is believed that Chukars perform an essential function of disseminating seeds of certain native species of plants, and for this reason may be helping to restore native ecosystems in Hawai'i.