1915. Chrysolophus amherstiae

(1915) Chrysolophus amherstiae.

Phasianus amherstiae Leadbeater, Trans. Linn. Soc, xvi, p. 129, pi, 15 (1828) (China).

Vernacular names. Ja (Tibet) ; Sen-chi (Chinese); ? Wu-chree (Burmese, Shan States).

Description.— Adult male. Occipital crest blood-crimson; truncate feathers from behind the nape and ear-coverts pure white with velvet-black edges, falling like a cape over the back and scapulars, the black glossed with blue and the longest feathers with a second bar of the same about 20 mm. from the tip; remainder of head, neck, throat, upper breast and mantle brilliant peacock-green, the feathers of breast and mantle sub-bordered with black and with tiny edges of scintillating emerald-green; lower back and rump brilliant golden-buff, each feather with a broad band of metallic dark blue-green and with a hidden black base; upper tail-coverts black and white, the central and some of the lateral with flame-coloured tips ; the longest tail-coverts fall in pairs on either side of the true tail-feathers, making them look as if tasselled with orange-gold; central tail-feathers white with bars of metallic blue-black and irregular bars of dead black, more or less at right angles to those on the white interpaces; outer tail-feathers mottled black and white on the inner webs and with broken black edges next which the white is buffy-brown in tint; primaries brown, the outer edges white except for the terminal inch or so; outer secondaries brown, the first only edged with white; inner secondaries and coverts deep steel-blue, each feather edged with velvety-black; lower breast, abdomen and flanks white, the anterior flanks, thighs and vent barred and mottled with black; under tail-coverts deep blue-green, edged with black.

Colours of soft parts. "Iris clear yellow" (Pere David); orbital skin blue ; bill yellowish-horny, darker at base and round nostrils; legs and feet plumbeous or bluish-horny.

Measurements. Wing 205 to 233 mm.; tail 863 to 1143 mm.; culmen about 24 to 26 mm.; tarsus 76 to 86 mm.; spur a mere knob seldom exceeding 12.5 mm.

Female. Forehead and feathers over the eye rufous, more or less tipped black; feathers of crown, nape and sides of neck barred black and rufous, black glossed steel-blue, strongest on the hind-neck; whole upper plumage barred buff and dark brown ; feathers of the mantle rufescent edged with mottled black and buff, the mottling extending to the bars of the rump, lower back and upper tail-coverts; primaries and outer secondaries brownish-black barred with rufous-black ; inner secondaries and coverts like the back; chin and throat albescent, immaculate or nearly so ; sides of throat, neck and breast chestnut-buff paling to creamy-buff on the flanks, with broad concealed bars of black ; centre of breast and abdomen paler and with no bars ; under tail-coverts barred dull rufous-buff and black.

Measurements. Wing 183 to 203 mm.; tail 309 to 373 mm.

Young males are like the female but acquire at the first moult a black-and-white barred throat and neck and a much more boldly marked breast and flanks; the forehead and crown become glossed with green and the white feathers of the cape begin to show.

Chick. Head fulvous, a dark line of chestnut running from the base of the bill, widening at the crown and covering the whole hind-neck; sides of head pale dull chestnut-buff with two tiny bars of black behind the ear-coverts; chin, throat and fore-neck dull, very pale buff; upper parts, wings and tail barred and freckled buff, chestnut and black ; below dull pale buff with wide but indistinct bars of blackish.

Distribution. Mountains of Western China, Eastern and South -Eastern Tibet; Yunnan, Northern Shan States and the Kachin Hills in Upper Burma, where the Irrawaddy probably forms its Western limit. Three specimens have been obtained in the Myitkyina District.

Nidification. Two clutches of eggs in my collection taken by native collectors in Setchuan in May were said to have been laid on the ground on leaves under the shelter of a bush in dense forest. The eggs, four and seven respectively in number, are like small fowls' eggs, the four set a pearly-grey in colour, the seven set a light buff, both quite unspotted. They vary in size between 46.2 x 34.2 and 53.0 x 36.9 mm.

Habits. These beautiful Pheasants frequent forest in broken mountainous country between 7,000 and 12,000 feet and in many places are very common. Although very pugnacious they are soft birds with lax fluffy plumage taking little shot to bring them down, though they are such skulkers and so loth to fly that it is difficult to get a shot without dogs. They are said by Bailey to be very noisy birds but he does not describe the call. They feed on all sorts of seeds, berries, roots and insects and according to Pere David they prefer bamboo-shoots to anything else.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.5 1928.
Title in Book: 
1915. Chrysolophus amherstiae
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Lady Amherst's Pheasant
Chrysolophus amherstiae
Vol. 5

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith