Toward the end of February I noticed a visitor to our place in the woods that appeared not to belong here. I’m not a birder by hobby although in photographing wildlife, I often run to my reference books to identify unfamiliar birds. Photography is a great way to identify species without having to attempt to memorize identifying characteristics on a moment’s notice. In this instance it didn’t take a reference book for me to realize that this was a rare bird here.
A virtual trip to the Cornell Ornithology website revealed it to be a Chukar. It was described on this Cornell page as the following: “A native of southern Eurasia, the Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada.”
The bird was obviously not in arid or rocky terrain, nor was it west of the Rockies. It isn’t clear how it came to be in Western Michigan in the winter, in deep snow. It seemed to prefer to run rather than fly (see the short video below) and it fed on the bits under the bird feeder and on the corn the deer left behind. It stayed for a little over two weeks and then apparently moved on.
It was interesting to have it for a visit.