Prepare yourself. A couple of these shots won’t be easy on the eyes…
Around here Chukars are now beginning to molt and the process lasts through much of October. But the molt “symptoms” that you see in individual birds vary dramatically throughout the entire summer.
I took this shot of a Chukar on Antelope Island two days ago. I include it here as a comparison to the next image of a different bird which was taken yesterday morning.
I’ve seen many thousands of Chukars over the years but I’ve never seen one quite this hammered, even during the molt. For some reason the molt often seems to occur more abruptly on the back of the lower neck but in my experience this is an extreme case.
A closer view at a slightly different angle.
This bird seemed vigorous, healthy and active. It was calling and acting normally. I suspect that what we see here is only molting but must admit to some curiosity about other possibilities – fighting, disease and mites come to mind.
So, knowing that many of you (rehabbers, falconers and others) have much more experience than I with molting, injured and/or sick birds I’m wondering if some might care to speculate (or outright diagnose) what’s going on with this pathetic looking creature.
I’ll confess that I laughed out loud when I first saw this bird through my viewfinder but then I began to have some serious empathy for it.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts on the matter.