Bowdoin’s campus has some international visitors. Chukar partridges, commonly referred to as chukars, are native to Eurasia, but were sighted on campus and around Brunswick by local bird watchers over the summer. Near the end of July, Isaac Merson ’17 and Liam Taylor ’17 spotted two chukars in the Harpswell Apartments parking lot. They took pictures and looked the birds up, trying to determine what these Eurasian birds were doing in coastal Maine.

Though there are some small wild populations in North America, most chukars live in central and western Canada. 

“Most likely, they escaped from some sort of farm,” said Merson. 

There are several game preserves in the Bangor area that claim to have chukar populations. It is possible the local chukars escaped from one of those preserves and made their way south.

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences Nathaniel Wheelwright describes chukars as “elusive, difficult bird[s] for sportsmen to hunt.” North American chukar populations are typically imported by game preserves catering to these sportsmen.

While it is uncommon to see chukars in the Northeast, this is not the first time they’ve been spotted at Bowdoin or in the surrounding area.

According to Wheelwright, people have reported seeing them near Simpson’s Point, roughly four miles from campus. Additionally, several College faculty have reported seeing the birds regularly in their backyards.

Chukars are closely related to the ruffed grouse, which in Maine is commonly called a partridge. They are also related to chickens and, more distantly, turkeys. Though they resemble the North American quail, they are not closely related. The birds have red legs and a striped pattern along their sides.