(1917) Lophura diardi.
THE SIAM FIRE-BACK.
Euplocamus diardi Bonap., Comp. Rend., xliii. p. 415 (1886) (Cochin China).
Vernacular names. Kai-pha (Siam) ; Kai-jan (Laos).
Description. Head black, the crest glossed with purple-blue and the fleshy-red skin showing through the feathers of the chin, throat and fore-neck; back and upper breast finely vermiculated grey and black: lower back the same but each feather with broad terminal bar of gold concealing the grey base; rump and shorter upper tail-coverts rich metallic blue-black fringed with deep copper-crimson ; longest tail-coverts black, glossed with copper and fringed with metallic green ; tail black glossed with blue, less noticeably on the inner webs; wings like the back but the scapulars with a broad subterminal band of black followed by a narrow line of pure white; lesser and median coverts with similar, but less pronounced bands ; lower plumage black glossed with deep blue, the bases of the feathers brownish and showing through here and there.
Colours of soft parts. Iris burnt-sienna, light red to vermilion ; bill pepper-brown; legs vermilion (E. G. Herbert). Facial skin bright scarlet-red.
Measurements. Wing 230 to 256 mm.; tail 345 to 386 mm.; tarsus about 100 mm.; culmen 30 to 34 mm.; crest 70 to 90 mm.
Female. Crown, nape and sides of head a dingy pale earth-brown shading into pale rufous-white on the chin, throat and fore-neck; neck, back and scapulars chestnut-red with faint dusky edges to each feather and some black stippling in tiny irregular bars; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts vermiculated or mottled with pale rufous-buff and black, the bars broader and better defined on the back than elsewhere; four central tail-feathers the same with broad bars of black more boldly mottled with buff on their terminal halves; outer tail-feathers rich chestnut-red; visible portions of the wing like the central tail-feathers with the buff bars and mottlings still more boldly defined; primaries a lighter brown with narrow mottled buff bars; below chestnut, the breast and fore-neck like the mantle; lower breast, abdomen and flanks with bold edgings of white to each feather; centre of abdomen dull brown and white; under tail-coverts chestnut, the bases mottled with brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris raw umber, burnt sienna, Venetian red or Naples yellow; bill above black, the lower mandible yellowish horny; feet and legs a vermilion, duller than in the male (Herbert).
Measurements. Wing 220 to 238 mm.
Young male like the female but duller and more mottled with blackish above; the breast is more brown, less chestnut, and the white edgings to the breast and flanks are obsolete or wanting. The full adult plumage seems to be obtained at the first autumn moult.
Distribution. Siam, Annam and Cambodia, Shan States and Eastern Lao country. I have also had it reported from Karenni.
Nidification. A clutch of eggs was taken by one of Herbert's collectors near Muok-lek in Eastern Siam on the 19th of April and on the 2nd of May two other eggs were taken. The first nest was situated on the ground in a hollow tree, both male and female being trapped on the nest. Two eggs of the first clutch were unfertile, these and the two taken in May are pale buff in colour, broad ovals in shape and measure 47.5 x 37.1, 47.7 x 36.3, 47.0 X 38.0, and 46.9 x 38.1 mm.
Habits. Very little on record. It seems to haunt much the same kind of country as Vieillot's Eire-back, dense forest with thick green undergrowth. These birds are constantly trapped by the Siamese, who prize them as cage-birds and in captivity they are hardy and will breed. They feed on all kinds of fruit, berries and insects, worms, small land-crabs etc. Their flesh is said to be good-eating but rather dry.