Ithaginis Wagler, Isis, 1832, p. 1228.
Type, Phasianus cruentatus Hardw.
This genus, which contains the Blood-Pheasants, is like Tragopan, one of those on the border-line between the Pheasants and the Partridges but moulting the tail-feathers in the order of the latter and so retained in the Perdicinae.
In Ithaginis the tail is long, of fourteen graduated feathers; the wing is short and rounded, the first primary shorter than or nearly equal to the tenth, the fifth and sixth about equal and longest; the tarsi are long and stout and are furnished with several spurs in the male which show as knobs only in the tarsi of the female.
The bill is very Grouse-like in character, short, stout and rather hooked, whilst the eggs also are very like those of some Grouse.
There is a full soft crest and the plumage generally is very soft and lax, the feathers lanceolate in shape. Round the eye a small naked area. The sexes differ greatly in colour.
Rothschild considers all the members of this group to be subspecies of cruentus. At present I cannot consider this proved. It is more than probable that kuseri and tibetanus will prove to be subspecies of cruentus but we want more specimens to prove or disprove connecting-links between the three and until we get them I propose to retain them on the status of species.
Within our limits only three forms have as vet been actually taken but it is possible geoffroyi or one of the races of that group may yet be found to occur in the extreme North-east boundary of Indo-Burma. This species is included in the key, which will enable any field-naturalist or sportsman to identify it if obtained.
Key to Species. Males.
A.Chin and throat crimson.
A.Forehead black............... I. cruentus, p. 352.
a1 Anterior ear-coverts and gorget black…………..I. kuseri, p. 354.
b1. Anterior ear-coverts yellowish with black edges ; no gorget………I. tibetanus, p. 355.
B.Chin and throat not crimson…………..I. geoffroyi.
A.Feathers of face and sides of headlight ochre-brown, contrasting with grey crown.
A.General plumage rufous-brown…………..I. cruentus, p. 352.
B.General plumage brown…………..I. kuseri, p. 354.
B.Feathers of face and sides of head grading into and not contrasting with grey of crown…………..I. geoffroyi.
The female of I. tibetanus is not known.