Avifauna of Crete


Rock Patridge
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Chukar (scient. Alectoris graeca) or rock patridge is a beautiful proud bird abounding in Crete, for which many songs have been sung. The chukar walks and runs well on all grounds. It rarely flies, but it does so faster and better than all galliformes.

The size of the male is 33 centimeters, while the female is a little smaller. Its body is fat with a rounded shape. The beak and the feet are red. The back is grey and two black stripes beginning from the beak and passing over the two eyes end up in the chest. At the side it has dark bars alternating with white ones.

Chukars are endemic birds, they don’t immigrate. Thus in winter they suffer from the lack of food. During heavy winters they are decimated and of course if the spring is heavy, they don’t survive. On the other hand, because of ruthless hunters, its populations have seriously decreased. It feeds on vital and vegetive materials, such as all types of insects, ants, flies, grasshoppers, worms, seeds, leaves and buds.

Chukars are monogamous birds. In spring the female lays 10-15 eggs, rarely 20. The female broods them for 2-3 weeks. As soon as the little ones hatch, they walk and follow their mother. In danger she risks her life to save them. She doesn’t leave by flying immediately, but stays on the spot for a while, and with a characteristic cry she alerts them of the danger so that they hide in the bushes or the herbage. After the danger is gone, she gathers them around her with an interrupted whistle.

They love the sun, are peaceful birds and live harmonically in groups which include many couples. They are easily tamed and its common enemies are the hawks, weasels, snakes and the man.

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