(1921) Gennaeus horsfieldii horsfieldii.
THE BLACK-BREASTED KALIJ PHEASANT.
Gallophasis horsfieldii Gray, Gen. B., iii, p. 498, pi. cxxvi (3848) (India, Assam). Gennaeus horsfieldii. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 92 (part.).
Vernacular names. Mathura (Chittagong, Tippera, Goalpara) ; Modura (Sylhet and Cachar Plains); Deorik, Dirrik, Durug (Garo Hills) ; Deodip (Cachari) ; Vohtep (Kuhi); Inruitip (Naga);' Yit (Burma).
Description.— Adult male. Whole plumage except the rump, lower back and upper tail-coverts black; above, the plumage is glossed with purple-blue, in some specimens more blue, in others more purple; below, in fresh moult the gloss is more purple but soon wears away so that most birds are dull black; the primaries are unglossed blackish-brown ; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts black with broad terminal bars of white.
Some individuals have traces of white edging to a few feathers on the back and wing-coverts and fewer still have a few white streaks on the sides of the breast.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown to red-brown ; bare skin of face crimson; bill light greenish or yellowish-horny, the culmen and base darker; legs some shade of plumbeous or brown, very rarely with a red or pink tinge and this never strong.
Measurements. Wing 211 to 241 mm.; tail 210 to 245 mm.; tarsus about 76 to 84 mm.; culmen 28 to 32 mm.; crest about 76 mm. and up to 90 mm. Weight 2 1/4 to 3 3/4 lb.
Female. Above reddish-brown finely powdered with dark brown, the feathers, except of the head, edged and shafted paler; the central pairs of tail-feathers chestnut-brown, more or less vermiculated with dark brown; other feathers blackish-brown, those next the central ones marked with chestnut-brown; upper tail-coverts and rump a little paler than the back; wing-coverts rather more broadly pale-edged; quills reddish-brown, the innermost secondaries finely vermiculated with dark brown and sometimes tipped and edged paler; chin and throat white, grading into brown on the fore-neck and remainder of the plumage which has white shafts to the feathers; centre of abdomen and vent dingy-brown; under tail-coverts blackish-brown with narrow pale edges.
Measurements. Wing 203 to 228 mm.; tail 190 to 228 mm.
Young males are like the females but generally darker with white or pale buff edgings more in contrast with the rest of the feather.
Cocks take two or even three moults before acquiring the full plumage.
Chick in, down. Head chestnut with black coronal streak; a dark chestnut streak from the eye, below which the buff is paler; median body-stripe rich chestnut-brown; sides and underparts of body ashy or ashy-buff with an ill-defined chestnut baud on the breast.
Distribution. East of Bhutan, all Assam, East to the Irrawaddy; Arrakan as far South as Akyab, and down some of the humid, densely-forested streams of the Chin Hills, where generally it is replaced by the next race.
Nidification. In Assam this Kalij breeds principally from the middle of March to the middle of June but I have seen eggs in every month of the year from February October and many birds must have two broods. They breed over a great part of the plains and commonly up to 2,500 feet, less often up to 5,000 but keep to very dense cover, either forest, scrub- or, occasionally, bamboo-jungle. There is no real nest but a pile of debris under thick bushes is selected and the eggs, four to ten in number, are deposited in a shallow cup scratched in this. They are well hidden but if the searcher is very quiet the hen sits so close that she will not rise until almost touched and then flounders off and gives away the nest. When the clutch is incomplete she is more shy and sneaks away as soon as she hears any one approaching. The eggs are of the usual type and two hundred average 47.3 x 36.3 mm.: maxima 54.0 X 35.1 and 53.0 x 39.9 mm.; minima 43.1 X 34.7 and 45.0 X 33.1 mm. Pigmy eggs are very common.
This Pheasant is not polygamous but the cock bird remains near the hen when she is sitting, sometimes helps in the incubation himself and assists in feeding the chicks. The display of the cock is like that of the Jungle-Fowl.
Habits. This is a forest and jungle Pheasant but it prefers dense forest close to cultivation, natural openings or streams, where it can come out and feed in the mornings and evenings. Water seems a necessity and birds will rarely be found far from it. They keep in family-parties except in the breeding-season and two or more of these often join forces, especially when feeding in mustard-fields or other cultivation. They are very pugnacious and occasionally may be caught, utterly exhausted, after a fight; at the same time they are not nearly such fine fighters as Jungle-Fowl and seldom fight to the death. The call is a harsh single crow, always uttered, I think, from some branch or other elevated perch.