(1918) Gennaeus hamiltonii
THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ.
Phasianus hamiltonii Griff., ed. Cuv, Anim. King., Aves, iii. p. 27 (1829) (Simla) Gennaeus albocristatus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 89.
Vernacular names. Kalij, Kukera, Mirghi Kalij, Kalesur Kalesi (Hin. in N.W. India); Kolsa (W. Punjab and Chamba).
Description.— Adult male. Long hairy crest white or dirty pale brown; remainder of head black, glossed with purplish-blue upper back black glossed blue and with the feathers edged whitish or pale brown and with white shafts; lower back, rump 'and upper tail-coverts black, glossed steel-blue broadly edged white and sometimes subedged brownish; tail-feathers glossy black above, below browner with pale tips; lesser and median wing-coverts like the back; greater coverts with a greener gloss and dark shafts ; quills dark brown glossed on the visible parts with green; chin, throat and fore-neck dark brown with pale shafts, gradually changing to grey with a pale steel-blue sheen on the lower fore-neck, thence into white, more or less tinged with brown on the lanceolate feathers of the breast and flanks; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts dull brown, more or less edged paler.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or orange-brown; bill greenish-white, dusky at the tip; orbital skin vermilion to crimson with slight black feathering; legs and feet livid white to pale olive-brown or slaty-brown.
Measurements. Wing 216 to 249 mm.; tail 228 to 327 mm.; tarsus about 75 to 80 mm.; culmen about 23 to 26 mm.; tarsus 75 to 105 mm. Weight 2 lb. to 2 lb. 6 oz.
Female. Head reddish-brown with pale shafts; whole upper plumage reddish-brown, each feather distinctly pale-shafted and with pale edges ; quills brown, the inner secondaries with rather pale shafts; back and wings finely vermiculated with black; central tail-feathers reddish-brown, vermiculated brown on both webs and with a few buff or white markings on the edge of the outer webs; remaining tail-feathers dark brown, glossed with green and often with pale tips ; lower plumage like the upper but paler and with broader pale margins to the feathers; chin and throat paler still; centre of abdomen and vent pale dull brown.
Measurements. Wing 203 to 215 mm. Weight 1 lb. 4 oz. to 2 lb. 4 oz.
Chick in first plumage. Crown chocolate-brown; sides of head and crown more rufous; ear-coverts dark brown; upper plumage brown minutely freckled with black, each feather edged paler, a white spot at the tip and a broad subterminal bar of black edged rufous ; lower plumage dull pale brown, the feathers with whitish shafts and pale edges.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Indus on the West to Nepal as far as the Gogra on the East. Reports of its occurrence in Bunir and Swat have not been confirmed.
Nidification. The White-crested Kalij breeds from the foothills up to 10,000 feet. From 1,200 to about 5,000 feet it lays from the end of March to the end of June but above this does not •commence to breed until May. The nest is just the debris on the ground, sometimes raked into a hollow, natural or scratched out by the birds themselves, hidden away under some bush, rock or rank tuft of grass in thick undergrowth of fir, oak or other forest. Occasionally it is said to make a better bed or nest for its eggs, collecting grass etc. for the purpose. They lay from six to nine eggs, rarely up to fourteen, which in appearance are just like fowls' eggs. In colour they range from pure white, which is exceptional, to a deep warm buff. One hundred eggs measured by myself average 49.5 x 37.0 mm.: maxima 53.1 x 39.1 and 50.8 x 40.0 mm.; minima 44.1 x 36.3 and 48.2 x 34.3 mm. Hume gives the breadth of one egg as 31.7 mm.
The cock bird probably does not deserve his reputation for polygamy and seems to keep to one wife, whom he assists with the young when hatched. The hen sits very close and will sometimes allow herself to be caught before she will move.
Habits. This Pheasant is a resident bird like all others of the genus, though it may desert the higher hills in Winter. It is a bird of forest and dense cover but less exclusively restricted to humid evergreen-forests than some of its relations whilst it sometimes wanders into comparatively open spaces to feed, especially in the mornings and evenings. It is not gregarious but keeps in pairs or family-parties, feeding on seeds, berries, grain, insects, worms etc. as well as on buds and shoots. The call of the cock is described as a loud whistling chuckle or cluck. They are excellent game-birds, both because of the sport they afford and the good dish they form when shot.