1333. Catreus wallichi.
The Cheer Pheasant.
Phasianus wallichii, Hardwicke, Tr. Linn. Soc. xv, p. 166 (1827) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 245; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 527; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 68; Hume, N. & E. p. 524; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 169, pl ; Hume, Cat. no. 809; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 345; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 423; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 412. Phasianus staceii, Gould, Cent. pl. 68. Catreus wallichii, Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 499; Mitchell, ibid. p. 545, pls. 147 (young), 149, fig. 4 (egg); Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 317.
Chihir, Chir, Nepal, Kumaun, Garhwal, &c.; Bunchil, Herril. hills north of Mussooree; Chaman, Kulu, Chamba.
Coloration. Male. Crown and crest brown, each feather edged and tipped paler; sides of head, where feathered, including the ear-coverts, brown, slightly more rufous ; neck all round, except behind, chin, and throat sullied white; back of neck and upper back black, the feathers barred and tipped with white; wing-coverts pale-shafted and barred buffy white and black, the colours broken up and mottled on the greater coverts and scapulars ; lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts dull rufous, each feather with a subterminal black band, glossed with green ; quills dark brown, irregularly edged and speckled with buff ; tail-feathers with alternating subequal broad cross-bars of white or buff and black mottled with grey, and replaced in parts by chestnut on the inner webs of the outer feathers, generally a narrow detached black stripe in front of each black bar, the white or buff bars often speckled with black; breast and flanks buff or buffy white, the feathers barred with black; middle of abdomen blackish, lower abdomen grey tinged with rufous on lower flanks and under tail-coverts.
Female. Feathers of crown and crest dark brown, with buff edges ; supercilia and sides of head brown, with broader whitish edges to the feathers ; chin and throat white ; neck all round and upper breast black, with broad whitish edges ; feathers of the upper back barred black and chestnut, with whitish shaft-stripes and tips ; wing-coverts mixed black and buff, white-shafted, and with whitish edges; scapulars and greater coverts with whitish ends ; quills black, barred with buff on the outer webs and with rufous on the inner ; lower back and rump greyish brown, mixed with black and buff; tail brown, mottled and blotched with black, and with rather narrow, irregular, more or less black-edged whitish cross-bars ; lower breast rufous, the feathers pale-edged ; abdomen and lower tail-coverts isabelline, more or less with black crescentic subterminal bars, especially on the lower flanks and tail-coverts.
Bill pale horny; nude sides of head bright red; irides yellowish hazel; legs and feet brown (Jerdon).
Length of males 34 to 40 (some are said to reach 46); tail 20 to 23; wing 10; tarsus 2.9; bill from gape 1.4. Length of females 24 to 29.5 ; tail about 14.5 ; wing 9; tarsus 2.6.
Distribution. From the neighbourhood of Khatmandu in Nepal to Chamba, at elevations of from 4000 or 5000 to 10,000 feet in the outer Himalayas, not in the drier upper valleys.
Habits, &c. The Cheer is found chiefly at elevations of about GOOD to 7000 feet on precipitous wooded hill-sides, but is capriciously and locally distributed. It generally, except in the breeding-season, associates in small parties and its presence is usually betrayed by the loud crowing of both sexes morning and evening, and sometimes during the day. The crow is loud and peculiar, and is said by " Mountaineer " (Mr. F. "Wilson), in whose admirable accounts the habits of this and several other Himalayan Pheasants are fully described, to sound like chir-a-pir, chir-a-pir, chir, chir, chirwa, chirwa, but much varied. This Pheasant feeds on roots, which it digs up, grubs, insects, seeds, berries. &c, but is far inferior to the Koklas as food. It breeds from April to June, laying in a hollow scratched in the ground 9 to 14 pale stone-coloured eggs, almost devoid of markings, or slightly speckled, and measuring about 2..3 by 1.5. There is no nest.