Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, hence it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Rich et al. (2004) have estimated the global population to number c.2,000,000 individuals. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 488,000-1,680,000 pairs, which equates to 975,000-3,370,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.10% of the global range, so a revised estimate of the global population size is c. 9,000,000-34,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population in China has been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs (Brazil 2009).
In Europe the small population is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 11.7 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). In Lebanon the population is considered locally reduced. Elsewhere the population is suspected to be stable or locally increasing (McGowan and Kirwan 2016).
The species is found on barren arid and semi-arid hillsides with low vegetation cover and occasional stunted trees and bushes (Watson 1962, Papaevangelou 1980). At lower altitudes it is found on rocky slopes with shrubs and bushes adapted to dry conditions, in vineyards, olive groves and on agricultural land (Pantelis 1980, Papaevangelou 1980, Serez 1992).
Laying occurs mid-April to May in the Mediterranean with 7–12 eggs laid. The nest consists of a scrape sometimes lined with grass or leaves and is found under the shelter of bushes or overhanging grasses. It feeds on plants and insects, taking bulbous roots, grains and shoots of grasses and cereals as well as leaves, buds, flowers and berries (Watson 1962, Cramp and Simmons 1980). Availability of water influences population density even though birds will move up to 10 km to access water (Watson 1962). The species undergoes seasonal altitudinal movements moving to lower altitudes during the winter (McGowan and Kirwan 2016).
Severe winters are known to affect the Turkish populations and pesticides may now be a cause for concern. It is also suffering from habitat degradation in some areas (McGowan and Kirwan 2016). Habitat loss, intensive hunting and poaching are thought to threaten the species in Azerbaijan. Birds released for hunting pose a threat to this species through genetic contamination from non-native populations and from A. rufa (Panayides et al. 2011).
Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II. Protected in Turkey since 1990 (McGowan and Kirwan 2016).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Assessment of the impacts of pesticides is needed to inform appropriate conservation measures. Identify key areas of habitat for this species and take steps to protect and expand them.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Alectoris chukar. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/05/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/05/2019.