Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chukar Time

Spring is the time of year we tend to associate with the birth of baby animals and birds in this part of the world. Chukars are an exception to the seasonal rule. It is sheer conjecture on my part, but I assume the late hatch is due to their diet of grass and other seeds. Why try to raise a brood before the harvest is mature?

Every year it seems that late July rolls around and Ken and I lament the fact that there are no baby chukars. Then, within a week or two in early August, it seems as though the little grey balls are crawling over every space imaginable. This year was no different, other than I think it is truly a record crop. I have verified at least four flocks with 6, 11, 14 and 15 chicks. It is always the same: the two parents share in the duties of guiding and protecting their young. On rare occasions you will see a single parent with one or two babies - never more - and they may try and join another complete family unit. It is sometimes permitted but it is made very obvious to all that the joiners are at the bottom of the pecking order and are expected to follow and eat at the end of the line.

Yesterday I looked out the back window and was astonished to see the family of 11 plus mom and dad all in the enclosed patio out back. That is pretty bold! Mama walked back and forth across the bridge while keeping a close eye on her exploring young while papa stayed on top of the rock as lookout.

The funniest thing was when one of the babies discovered a shady hole in the garden wall. He hopped on up and all the rest soon followed. I was rolling on the floor laughing as I watched them. They resembled nothing more than a Volkswagen full of high school students trying to break the world record for how many bodies they could stuff in to a small space! Meanwhile, mom and dad started going nuts as they suddenly lost sight of all their small charges. Eventually the youngsters had enough and jumped out to rejoin their frantic parents.

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