Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chukar Partridge on Mount Haleakala

The chukar partridge is a type of bird known as an "upland ground bird". This means that it prefers the "uplands", away from the water, and prefers being on the ground. Other types of birds perch only briefly, spending much of their time in the air. Some birds love water; swimming, wading and diving. Upland ground birds are happy just walking around.

The chukar in the photo above was giving a new meaning to "upland". I found him almost 2 miles up, on Mount Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii. Like other upland ground birds, chukars are good eatin'. They were introduced into the United States as a game bird from their native Pakistan, where they are the national bird. (Don't laugh - Benjamin Franklin suggested the turkey, another upland ground bird, for the national bird of the United States. At least the birds of the US and Pakistan get along better than the people!)

Being such popular game birds and not very good at flying, chukars are known for their speed in running. Not as fast as that famous upland ground bird the roadrunner (meep-meep), but pretty fast. Since Mount Haleakala is in a national park, maybe this particular chukar was not used to being chased by hunters. He let me walk right up and take his picture. Or maybe he was just trying to obey the posted rules of the park:

According to Pakistani legend, the chukar is deeply in love with the moon, and stares at it longingly. If that is true, my bird picked a good place to live. Mount Haleakala is well known for its clear, dry, still, dark night air. Astronomers from around the country and around the world have set up telescopes here. They have learned what the chukar already knows about the great view of the moon from Haleakala.

Enjoy the sunset below, with the telescopes of "Science City" to the left and a crescent moon just starting to appear to the right. My chukar is sitting somewhere on that hill waiting for his love.


  1. John, great site! I am a school district administrator for Humanities, but I'm forwarded your blog to our Science Coordinator. I think our Science Specialists will love it!

  2. In the 60's a chukar partridge chose to visit our back yard in Rye, New Hampshire. It would appear when we called "Chuka-chuka!" and come right up to us.

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