(1936) Ithaginis cruentus.
Phasianus cruentus Hardw., Trans. Linn. Soc, xiii, p. 237 (1822) (Nepal). Ithaginis cruentus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 103.
Vernacular names. Chilmeah, Chilme, Chilmili Seremin, Selmung (Nepal) ; Same, Semo, Soomoong-pho (Lepcha).
Description.— Male. Lores, forehead, supercilium and. a broad line under the eye black ; the black changing to buff on the crown and to grey on the longest crest-feathers, which have central white streaks ; whole upper surface grey, with central white streaks, narrowest on the mantle, broadest on the rump and upper tail-coverts, where the streaks are edged with, black; chin and throat crimson, the feathers with black bases and tiny yellow-white specks at the tips ; ear-coverts, sides of head and neck black and white or yellowish-white, fore-neck yellowish-green with black bars and edges to each feather, the black varying much in extent; lesser and median wing-coverts like the back, more broadly streaked; primaries and outer secondaries brown; white-shafted and sometimes mottled on the outer webs ; greater coverts and inner secondaries marked with green and with broad yellowish shaft-stripes edged with black; longest tail-coverts edged with crimson; tail-feathers pale brown, almost white and edged and mottled with brown on the terminal portions; the central tad-feathers are edged with crimson throughout their length, the lateral feathers at their bases only; upper breast yellowish-green, more or less splashed with crimson; lower breast and flanks the same, with darker greener borders; abdomen dull ashy-buff, more or less covered by the lanceolate green feathers of the flanks and breast; under tail-coverts crimson with yellow specks at the tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown or hazel; bill black; cere and gape coral-red to crimson; orbital skin scarlet to orange-vermilion; legs and spurs crimson; claws dusky (Hume).
Measurements. Wing 193 to 214 mm.; tail 164 to 178 mm.; tarsus about 72 to 77 mm. ; culmen about 20 to 23 mm. Weight 1 lb. 1 oz. to 1 lb. 4 oz. The spurs vary from three to five and an not always the same on both tarsi.
Female. Forehead, sides of the head, chin and throat rufescent-ochre; anterior crest and nape slaty-grey, shading off into the surrounding colours; remainder of upper parts, wings and tail rufescent earth-brown, finely vermiculated all over with darker brown, more boldly on the tail and the primaries than elsewhere ; outer tail-feathers more rufous and more boldly marked than the inner; lower plumage bright rufous-brown, immaculate on the fore-neck and breast, finely vermiculated elsewhere.
Cere and orbital skin carmine-yellow.
Measurements. Wing about 190 to 195 mm.
Young males are like the adult, but less brilliantly coloured and have the bill red ; the orbital skin and cere are fleshy-grey.
Distribution. Northern higher ranges of mountains in Nepal, the Gogra probably forming its Western limit and East to Sikkim and West Bhutan. It is apparently common in the Chambi Valley and in Sikkim it occurs as far South as the Singalila ridge and the Damsang range North-west of Darjeeling.
Nidification. Hodgson says that the Blood-Pheasant breeds between 10,000 and 14,000 feet in April and May, laying ten to fourteen eggs in a loose nest of grass and leaves on the ground among grass and bushes. Two nests were taken by a Mr. Macgregor at about 12,000 feet in Sikkim, each containing six eggs. There was no nest, the eggs being deposited in a hollow scratched in a pile of loose fallen leaves at the foot of bushes in Pine-forest. The eggs were like pale reddish specimens of those of the Grey Hen but as the birds were not captured on the nest I rejected them. From what we now know of these eggs they were certainly correct though I was doubtful at the time.
Habits. The Blood-Pheasant is a bird of the highest altitudes from just below the snow-level down to about 10,000 feet and, less often, 8,000 feet. Hodgson says that it is a common bird in Nepal, associating in small nocks feeding on insects, seeds, grain and fruits. * Their alarm-note is a harsh " ship ship" and they have a peculiar cry not unlike the squeal of a Kite. They are said to be stupid birds, not shy, loth to fly and good runners. Their flesh is excellent for the table and is said to be like that of the Partridge.
* Nor. Zool., xxxiii, p. 212 (1926).