Gennaeus horsfieldi


Gennaeus horsfieldi.

Dorik, Assam.

Like the last species, this bird has the native name Muthura, and it is certainly allied to it, though more nearly to the next to be mentioned. It differs from the three most typical kalijes in having the underparts black with feathers of the ordinary rounded shape, not pointed; from this it is often called the black-breasted kalij, a rather misleading name, as it gives the impression that the black breast contrasts with the upper surface, which is not the case. In fact, the bird is the most simply and uniformly-coloured of all our pheasants, its purple-glossed black plumage being only relieved by white bars on the lower back. The crest is long and narrow.

The hen bird is very similar to the hens of the three white-breasted kalijes, both in plumage and crest; the only special point she shows is the contrast between the reddish-brown of the central tail-feathers with the more olive-brown of the rump ; but the difference is slight, and she can hardly be picked out from the others above-mentioned, while curiously enough she has no such near resemblance in colour to the hen of the lineated pheasant next to be dealt with, a much closer ally.

The purple or black-breasted kalij is a hill-bird like the group generally, and ranges from Chittagong to the Daphla hills and Eastern Bhutan, extending also to the northern parts of Arrakan and to Burma as far as Bhamo; Southern Manipur is also within its range, but its exact limits are not very easy to determine, as interbreeding between it and other forms undoubtedly goes on. It is not so high in its range on the hills as the white-breasted kalijes, seldom going above 4,000 feet and haunting jungle at the edge of cultivation and along rivers. Except for this, its habits, like its size, show no particular distinction from those of the three previous kalijes. It keeps mostly to cover, and only shows sport when hunted up with dogs, when it often takes to trees. "Well-wooded hills and ravines are favourite resorts, and only a few birds are seen together, pairs being more usual, though as many as eight or even eleven birds have been seen in a party. When flushed it rises noisily, and with a shrill repeated cheep.

The cocks are exceedingly pugnacious; two have been found fighting with such fury that both were captured by hand, in a much pecked and exhausted state; and one has been seen to stand up for some time to a red jungle-cock, which won in the end, the casus belli having been a white ant heap, on the swarming inmates of which these cantankerous birds could not agree to dine in peace. The flesh of this kalij, by the way, although white, is not as good as that of the jungle-fowl; a cock may weigh about three pounds, but is usually less. Besides insects, they feed on worms, shoots, and grain, for which they will often scratch in horse-dung. They are reported very difficult to tame, but nevertheless the species has often been brought to Europe, and has been during the time of writing represented at the London Zoo. I notice that when frightened the bird raises and spreads out his thin stiff crest horizontally, so that it is very broad and conspicuous.

The eggs of this bird may be found from March to June; they are warm light brown to pale buff in tint, and strong shelled; four have been found in a nest, which is made of dry leaves on the ground.

In the Garo Hills this species is known as Durug or Dirrik.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Gennaeus horsfieldi
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Purple Or Horsfields Kalij
Lophura leucomelanos lathami

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