CAMDEN — Chukar here, chukar there, it seems that Camden has a very busy chukar making its presence known all over town. And since the first sighting was made known on Facebook April 25, it seems either this chukar, [pronounced chuh-kahr], has been around for a while and has really made the rounds, or there is more than one.
For those not in the know, a chukar is a bird, a chukar partridge to be exact. It's in the pheasant family, introduced from southern Eurasia to North America as a game bird, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
It’s an usual bird for these parts, with a body the size of a duck. Its markings are distinct, with white stripes on its sides, red legs, a black ring over its head and down around its neck and red eyes and bill.
Over the past 24 hours, the Camden chukar has been seen around Union Street and Belmont Avenue, Chestnut and Wood streets and most recently in the parking lot at 87 Elm St., trotting toward Scott's Place and Reny's. This sighting happened at around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Today, the chukar is back around the parking lot and lawns at 87 Elm St., apparently successfully finding food from adjacent bird feeders, among the natural things it likes to eat like leaves and seeds of perennial grasses and flowers.
Last weekend, the chukar was spotted by staff at the Hartstone Inn on Elm Street. They called a wildlife person to try and catch it, but was unsuccessful. According to at least one person, it's believed the chukar could have come from a game bird farm in Warren.
According to a web search, Foggy Ridge Gamebird Farm in Warren raises mallards, quail, chukar and pheasants, all of which are used for training hunting dogs. Unfortunately, birds raised for this purpose are killed during the training.
Last winter, a chukar spent much of the season at the bird feeders at a home on Wiley Road.
That resident, Tina Lee, posted a photo of the chukar reaching for a feeder on her deck and said: "One overwintered here at our house - came up onto the deck and would peck at the window when the birdfeeder was empty. Other birds spilled seed down for the chukar and mourning doves. The feeder stayed empty one day, it pecked at the window and I didn't fill the feeder and the Ccukar has not been back."
According to many of the people who have seen the chukar this week, it doesn't fly away immediately after being spotted or approached, but won't let anyone get closer than about 5-feet from it. That’s normal behavior, according to the CLO. Chukars spend most of their time on the ground, flying for short distances when threatened and preferring to run when necessary, and possible.
At 2:30 p.m. today, volunteers with Avian Haven in Freedom, Selkie O’Mira and Shelley Spanswich, were on sight with nets and caught the chukar and plan to relocate it to a safer place, giving it a better, safer home than the parking lots, sidewalks and busy roads of Camden.
• Identification, life history and calls of the chukar partridge - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
(Videos courtesy Dave Edwards and Holly Edwards)
Reach Editorial Director Holly S. Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-706-6655