78. THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL.
Gallus gallus, (Linnaeus).
MALE :—The inner quills of the wing broadly margined on the outer web with chestnut; lower plumage black.
FEMALE :—Lower plumage rufous ; feathers of the mantle black edged with yellow.
Vernacular Names :—Jangli-murghi, Ban-murghi, Hind.; Bunkokra, Bengal, Assam ; Natsu-pia, Bhutia ; Pazok-tchi, Lepcha; Tau-gyet, Burmese; Kura, Chittagong.
There are but few specimens of the Red Jungle-Fowl from India proper in the Hume Collection, and it is difficult to give the western limit of its range with any degree of accuracy. This species certainly occurs in Chamba, probably the most western locality in the Himalayas where it is found. The British Museum contains skins of this bird from Umballa and Saharunpur. Proceeding south we reach Chairkhari and Punnah. According to Messrs. Hume and Marshall the Red Jungle-Fowl is met with in both these localities. Following the range farther south we are informed by the same authors that this species occurs near Pachmarhi. The next point is Raipur in the Central Provinces, whence there are several skins of this species in the British Museum. South of Raipur there are numerous localities from which this Jungle-Fowl has been recorded, and the line of western limit would appear to run from Raipur to the junction of the Godaveri and Indrawati rivers, and thence along the former river to the coast.
East of the line thus roughly indicated, and south of the Himalayas from Chamba to the extreme eastern portion of Assam, and thence down to the extreme southern point of Tenasserim, the Red Jungle-Fowl would appear to be found in all suitable localities. It occurs up to an elevation of about 5000 feet.
To the east this species extends through the Shan States to Siam, Cochin China and Hainan, and to the south through the Malay peninsula to many of the islands.
Jungle-Fowl are very generally distributed, but they are much more abundant on the hills than elsewhere. They are very partial to localities where cultivation and thick cover are found together, and bamboo jungle has particular attractions for them. Notwithstanding the general shyness of Jungle-Fowl, they may frequently be met with quite close to villages which are surrounded by jungle, and in such cases it is not always easy to distinguish the wild birds from the village poultry.
Although Jungle-Fowl may sometimes be seen in large flocks, they are usually in small parties, one cock being accompanied by two or three hens. The crow of the cock, which resembles that of the domestic cock, may be heard at all times of the year, and usually at all hours of the day, but more frequently of course in the morning than at any other time. The hen cackles like the domestic hen, both when alarmed and after laying an egg.
The Red Jungle-Fowl appears to lay from March up to June. There are probably two broods a year. The nest is made on the ground, of dry leaves and grass, and is placed at the foot of a bush or clump of bamboos. The eggs, which vary from five to eleven in number, have a fair amount of gloss and are of a pale yellowish buff colour. They vary in length from1.6 to 2.03 and in breadth from 1.27 to 1.5.
The male has the crown and the hackles of the upper part of the mantle rich orange-red with blackish shaft-streaks; the hackles of the lower part of the mantle golden yellow with black shaft-streaks. The back is black, generally hidden by the longer hackles. The rump is rich glossy maroon, the feathers terminating in rich orange-red tips as they approach the tail. The tail is black, glossed with green. The small coverts near the bend of the wing are glossy black, the next series rich maroon, and the third series glossy black. The first ten quills of the wing are black, the remainder black with the outer half of the outer web chestnut. The hackles at the base of the throat are orange-red and the whole lower plumage deep black.
The female has the crown mixed rufous and brown. The mantle is black, each feather margined with pale straw-yellow. The whole upper plumage and the visible portions of the closed wings are yellowish brown or buff, much freckled and marked with black and with white shafts. The tail is dark brown, mottled at the edge of the feathers with buff. The whole lower plumage is rufous, brightest on the breast, and all the feathers with pale shafts.
Length of male up to 28; wing about 9 ; tail up to nearly 15. Length of female about 17; wing about 7 1/2; tail about 6. Legs bluish; comb and naked skin of the head, red; irides red; bill dusky. Weight up to 2 lb. 4 oz.