Photographing Chukars on Antelope Island

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Chukar male in dewy grassesChukar male in dewy grasses

Yesterday morning I was able to spend time photographing a pair of Chukars on Antelope Island State Park in a grassy area that has begun to turn green. I remember how thrilled I was to photograph these upland game birds on the island even before I moved out here to Utah and I still get excited to photograph them.

The image above is the only one posted here today where I had my 1.4x teleconverter attached, for the rest of the images I had to remove it.

Watchful male ChukarWatchful male Chukar

I had to remove the teleconverter because instead of moving away the Chukars moved closer to where I was inside a vehicle using it as a mobile blind and I couldn’t fit the entire birds inside of the frame.

Chukar male standing on a rockChukar male standing on a rock

The male Chukar stood on a rock for a bit and gave me a great view of the spur on his leg, it is the knob protruding at the back of his leg about half way up. He was on the rock keeping an eye on the female who was feeding not too far away.

Chukar close up March 2017Chukar close up March 2017

Then he walked down off of the rock and walked closer to me and even with the teleconverter off he was too close to fit his whole body in the frame so I started taking portraits and close ups.

Chukar faceChukar face

The markings on the Chukar’s face are bold and the reds in the bill and orbital ring really stand out. Those stripes on the flanks do too!

Chukar profile portraitChukar profile portrait

The Chukar wasn’t posing for me but I sure felt that it was. It gave me profile views of its right and left sides.

Chukar preening close upChukar preening close up

By this time I had to turn the limiter off on my 500mm lens because the bird had moved in so close with the limiter on I couldn’t focus on it.

Then the male Chukar started to preen even though it was so close to the vehicle.

Fluffy Chukar portraitFluffy Chukar portrait

When he finished preening he fluffed up his feathers and seemed to give me a look. About that time a car came up behind us and we had to move, once the engine was started the Chukars moved away.

I always enjoy cooperative birds and the pair of Chukars yesterday were just that.

Life is good.


All of these images were taken with my Nikon D500, my ISO at the beginning was 320 and I bumped it down to 250 soon after I started photographing them. My apertures were f8 and f9 and my shutter speeds ranged from 1/320 to 1/500.


  1. Utahbooklover March 19, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Some great images of an unusual bird I’ve yet to see.

  2. Pepe Forte March 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Pure art Mia. Full of the things I love most about your images… color, composition and marvelous detail. Being ornithologically challenged…I had no idea how beautiful Chukars were (are?). Thanks.

  3. April Olson March 18, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Beautiful photos. They are a striking bird. I was looking closely at the feather edges, they look ragged like feather mite damage. He needs to dust bathe more.

  4. Elephant's Child March 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    How lovely to see them back.
    I see I still need moderating. Sigh.

  5. Jane Chesebrough March 18, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I always think of spring when I see your Chukars and these shots are delightful. It makes me wonder what they are thinking whe they seem to pose for us humans.Gteat captures, Mia!

  6. Patty Chadwick March 18, 2017 at 8:46 am

    These are wonderful close-up images…love the details and color patterns…I wonder who inflated the bird in the first frame…they almost over did it!

  7. Paul Marto March 18, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Awesome shots Mia, yes this Chukar was super cooperative for you!! Well done!!!

  8. Colleen Crank March 18, 2017 at 8:14 am

    What beautiful pictures. I especially love the barred feathers with smudges of brown and gray. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Ian Holland March 18, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Very, very nice!

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