1326. Argusianus argus.
The Argus Pheasant. (Fig. 12, p. 61.)
Phasianus argus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 272 (1766). Argus giganteus, Temm. Pig. et Gall, ii, p. 410 (1813), iii, p. 678; Blyth, Cat. p. 242; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 481, iii, p. 324; Hume Dan. 8. F. vi, p. 427; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 99, pl.; Hume, Cat. no. 803 ter; Sclater, P. Z. S. 1879, p. 115, pl. vii (chick), viii, tig. 1 (egg). Argus pavoninus, Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. i, pl. 30 (1830¬32). Argusianus giganteus, Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 148. Argusianus argus, Oates, B. B. ii, p. 313; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 363.
Quoit, Barony quou, Kwang, Malay ; Kyek-wah, Siamese (Bankasoon).
Coloration. Male. Middle of crown and short hairy occipital crest black; back of neck speckled grey; upper back, scapulars, and wing-coverts black with buff spots and streaks; lower back and rump clear buff with scattered black spots ; quills buff or grey, varying in tint, and variously spotted and banded; a band of rufous, minutely speckled with white, along the basal portion of the inner web of each primary near the shaft, and a row of peculiar ocelli, shaded like a ball in a socket *, along the shaft on the outer web of each secondary; inner edges of most secondaries unspotted white ; large middle tail-feathers blackish, shading into slaty grey on the inner web and into chestnut on the outer tipped with dirty white and speckled throughout with small black-bordered white spots; other rectrices the same, but blackish nearly throughout and much spotted; lower parts rufous brown, with narrow undulating bars of black, rufous, and buff.
Female. Crown and crest-feathers buff with black edges, the crest fuller than in the male; lower neck all round chestnut, passing on the back into black vermiculated and mottled with chestnut and buff, which form mottled bars on the lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts ; scapulars, wing-coverts, and secondaries black, more coarsely vermiculated with buff than the back; primaries chestnut, speckled with black; tail-feathers black with chestnut vermiculation ; lower parts from neck chestnut, speckled with black, paler and greyer on the abdomen.
Bill and claws white with a bluish tinge; irides brown ; facial kin dull blue; legs and feet red, bright in males, paler in females (Davison).
Length of male about 6 feet; tail 50 inches ; wing (primaries) 18, to end of secondaries 34; tarsus 4.5 ; bill from gape 17. Length of female 29 ; tail 13 ; wing 12 ; tarsus 3.6.
Distribution. The Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, with the Laos Mountains in Siam, and the extreme southern portion of Tenasserim, around Bankasoon, Malewoon, and the Upper Pakchan.
Habits, &c. Much of our knowledge of this remarkable Pheasant in the wild state is derived from Davison. The Argus is only found in evergreen forests, and both males and females are solitary. They feed on fruit, insects, &c, and both sexes have loud but different calls, repeated ten or a dozen times, that may be heard at a great distance. Each male clears a level open spot six or eight yards square, which he keeps scrupulously clean from dead leaves, weeds, &c, and here the bird remains all day, only roaming in the morning and evening in search of food, and roosting at night on a tree close by. These birds do not pair, and are said to have no regular breeding-season ; the hen lays, it is said, 7 or 8 eggs in a rude nest on the ground- The eggs laid in confinement are of a rich coffee-colour, finely punctured throughout, and measure about 2.6 by 1.9.
* Darwin ('Descent of Man,' ii, pp. 141-151) has shown that there is on the secondaries of this Pheasant a complete gradation from simple spots to these wonderful ocelli.