(1903) Gallus bankiva murghi.
THE COMMON RED JUNGLE-FOWL.
Gallus ferrugineus murghi Robinson & Kloss, Rec. Ind. Mus.. xix, p. 14 (1920) (Behar). Gallus ferrugineus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 75 (part.).
Vernacular names. Jungli Murgha, Bun Murgha Jungli Murghi, Bun Murghi (Hin., Upper India); Bun-kokra, Bun-kukra (Beng.) ; Bun-kukur (Assam); Natsa-pia, Nagseya (Bhut.) ; Paz-ok-chi Tankling (Lepcha) ; Bir-sim (Koles) ; Gera-gogur, Kuru (Gond.); Lall (Chunda Dist.); Ganga (Ooria); Daono (Cachari); Voh (Kuki); Inrui (Kacha Naga).
Description.— Adult male. Crown of head, nape, upper mantle and sides of neck deep bright orange-red changing to reddish -gold or orange on the longest hackles, which are marked with black down their centres; upper back black glossed with blue or green; lower back deep maroon-red, highly glossed and gradually changing into fiery-orange on the long hackles of the rump, the centres of these hackles black but concealed by those overlying them; upper tail-coverts and tail black, brilliantly glossed with green, blue-green or copper-green, the blue generally dominant on the coverts and all gloss absent or obsolete on the outermost tail-feathers; least wing-coverts and shoulder of wing black glossed like the back; median wing-coverts like the lower back ; greater coverts black; quills dark brown or blackish, the primaries edged on the outer web with light cinnamon, outer secondaries with much broader edges and the innermost glossy blue-green; under plumage blackish-brown faintly glossed with green.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish-brown, red or orange-red ; comb brick-red to scarlet-crimson ; wattles a rather more livid red; lappets white, sometimes touched with pink ; skin of head bluish or fleshy-red; bill dark horny-brown, the base and gonys reddish; legs and feet greenish-grey to deep slaty-brown. Breeding-birds have much brighter soft parts than in the non-breeding season.
Measurements. "Wing 203 to 244 mm.; tail between 300 and 380 mm.; tarsus about 70 to 80 mm.: oulmen 18 to 22 mm*; the spur generally about 25 mm., occasionally as much as 50 mm. Weight about 2 lb. up to 3 lb.
Post-nuptial plumage. The cock sheds the neck-hackles and long tail-feathers, the former being replaced with black feathers, which also often appear in patches in the body-plumage. This moult occurs in June or July normally and the full plumage is again assumed in October.
Immature males have the hackles less developed and their black centres more conspicuous; their colour also is paler, the cinnamon on the quills is darker and both these and the greater coverts are powdered with blackish.
Males in first plumage like the female.
Female. Top of the head blackish-brown, the feathers broadly edged with golden-yellow ; in most birds the forehead is more or less metallic crimson, this sheen being produced back as supercilia to behind the ear-coverts, where they widen and meet on the fore-neck as a broad gorget; feathers of nape orange-yellow with broad blackish centres, changing to pale golden-yellow on the longer hackles; upper plumage, wing-coverts and inner secondaries reddish-buff or reddish-brown with pale shafts and dark brown vermiculations; primaries dark brown edged with rufous ; tail dark brown, mottled with dull rufous, absent on the outer pairs; breast dull Indian red with pale shaft-lines shading to dull cinnamon on the abdomen, much vermiculated with brown ; under tail-coverts black or blackish-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; comb and small wattles, sometimes absent, dull crimson ; bill horny-brown, base and gape plumbeous-fleshy.
Measurements. Wing 177 to 196 mm.; tail 140 to 165 mm. Small spurs are sometimes present.
Chick in down. A broad central streak from crown to tail plum-brown ; a streak of the same colour through the eye and down the sides of the neck; lateral bands of buff; sides of body rich warm reddish-buff changing to pale buff on chin, throat and centre of addomen ; bill fleshy-yellow, legs olive-green.
Distribution. The lower ranges of the Himalayas from Kashmir to East and South Assam ; North and East Central Provinces, Western Bengal, Chota Nagpore, Behar and Orissa; Mundla, Raipur, Bastar and South to the Godavery. The range of this Jungle-fowl coincides with the range of the Sal Tree (Shorea robusta) and the habitat of the Swamp-deer (Cervus duvauceli).
Nidification. The height of the breeding-season is from the end oil March to May but eggs may be found at odd times from January to October and many birds must breed twice. They breed throughout their plains habitat and in the Himalayas up to 7,000 feet but not often above 5,000. The eggs are laid on the ground, either on a mass of fallen leaves and rubbish in a hollow, scraped together by the birds, or just on the ground with no bed at all. Occasionally the nest is inside a clump of bamboos two to four feet from the ground. As a rule the site is selected in dense undergrowth, either forest or scrub, but I have seen the eggs quite in the open, lying on dead leaves in bamboo-jungle. One hundred and fifty eggs average 45.3 x 34.4 mm.: maxima 52.0 X 35.5 and 46.3 x 41.1 mm.; minima 39.6 x 33.2 and 44.0 x 32.0 mm. In appearance they are like small warmly-coloured eggs of the domestic fowl. The number of eggs laid is usually live to seven, occasionally as many as eight or nine and often only four. It is very doubtful if Jungle-fowl are always polygamous. I have often seen cock-birds with the hens when the latter are sitting and I have also often seen both cock and hen with the young, feeding and looking after them.
Habits. The Jungle-fowl lives in forest hut feeds whenever possible in cultivation round about the edges of it. During the heat of the day they sleep in the forest on some tree or clump of bamboos hut from dawn to about 9 A.M. and again from 3 or 4 P.M. until dusk they may be seen wandering about in the crops. They form good sport when driven, though they are inveterate runners and extremely wild and clever in eluding the guns. The call is a sharp quick-ending replica of the crow of the domestic fowl and they have the usual conversational notes of the genus but, though both sexes cackle wildly when frightened, the hens do not cackle after laying an egg. Their diet is principally grain, seeds and shoots of plants but they also eat insects, worms, lizards, frogs, small snakes, crabs, etc. Their flesh is much superior to that of the domestic fowl for the table, though rather dry.