75. THE LINEATED SILVER-PHEASANT.
Gennceus lineatus, (Vigors).
MALE :—The whole upper plumage black, uniformly and finely vermiculated with white, the lines being across the shafts or slightly oblique; with white streaks on the lower plumage; no fringes on the rump.
FEMALE:—The neck and mantle with spearhead-shaped white marks; the inner quills of the wing without any buff bars.
Vernacular Names :—Yit, Burmese ; Sinklouk, Talain; Poogik, Karen.
The Lineated Silver-Pheasant appears to have a wider distribution than any of the other Silver-Pheasants : a fact probably due to its being a bird of the low country.
The range of this species extends from the southern coast-line of Pegu, probably up to about the first defile of the Irrawaddy river, where the hills close in on both sides, and the country in the immediate vicinity of the river becomes mountainous and bars the further progress of this Pheasant to the north. Dr. Anderson procured this bird at Mengoon, which is four miles above Mandalay, on the right bank of the river. This is the most northern locality in which we know this Pheasant to be found; but, as I have remarked above, it probably ranges to the first defile, some fifty miles higher up the river.
This species has been met with at one or two points on the right bank of the Irrawaddy, but this river may be con¬sidered to be approximately the western limit of the distribution of this Pheasant.
To the east the range of this bird is bounded by the mass of hills which skirt Burma and divide it from Siam and the Shan States. Commencing at the south, we find that Colonel Bingham obtained this species in the Thoungyin valley; the late Mr. Davison at Papun; Major Wardlaw Ramsay in the hills east of Toungoo; and quite lately Major G. Rippon has sent me a specimen shot on the Fort Stedman road, below Nampandet, a locality lying on about the 21st degree of north latitude, and in 96 1/2 east longitude. These same hills, with their numerous spurs, as they run north, approach the Irrawaddy more and more, and finally some of the spurs actually touch the river at the first defile.
Mr. Hume informs us that this Pheasant occurs as far south as Tavoy, but inasmuch as in the Hume Collection there are no specimens of this bird from any locality even so far south as Moulmein, I think there may be some mistake about the occurrence of this species at the former place.
Throughout the large triangle formed by the sea coast, the Irrawaddy river and the chain of hills bounding Burma on the east, the Lineated Silver-Pheasant is found in more or less abundance. It is a bird essentially of the hills, and it will not be met with in the delta of the Irrawaddy, nor in the plains which border this river and the Sittang. Directly, however, rising ground is reached, this Pheasant is observed; and on the Pegu Hills, which run up north from Rangoon into Upper Burma, it is extremely common. It is, however, a bird of low elevation, and it will not be found above 2000 feet. At Papun this species is replaced by the next on the hills which rise above this level.
The Lineated Silver-Pheasant prefers dry forests and hillsides covered with bamboo, but it is also found in the ever¬ green forests which clothe large tracts on the eastern slopes of the Pegu Hills. It is generally met with in pairs or parties of three or four. This bird is not very shy, and it frequently comes out to feed on roads and footpaths. When observed it creeps stealthily away, and can seldom be made to fly unless very hard pressed or taken by surprise.
The ordinary note of alarm of this Pheasant is a low guttural cry frequently repeated. At the breeding season, apparently like other Pheasants of this group, the Lineated Pheasant makes a drumming sound by flapping its wings and striking them against its body. This sound may be imitated by holding a pocket-handkerchief by two opposite corners, one in each hand, and jerking the hands apart as frequently as possible.
I have never seen this Pheasant fly into a tree; but it does so, we are told, when pursued by a dog.
The Lineated Pheasant breeds in March and April. The nest is a hollow scratched out of the ground and lined with bamboo-leaves, and is usually at the foot of a clump of bamboos or of a small tree. The eggs, which are six or seven in number, resemble the eggs of the common hen, have very little gloss and are of a buff colour. They measure from 1.75 to 1.95 in length and from 1.4 to 1.5 in breadth.
In the male the crest is glossy black. The upper plumage and the wing-coverts are black, very finely and closely vermiculated with white, these vermiculations being at right angles or slightly oblique to the shaft. The exposed parts of the quills of the closed wing are obliquely barred with white. The two middle tail-feathers are white, with a little black mottling on the basal half of the outer web ; the other tail-feathers progressively with more black and less white, the outermost feather being black with narrow diagonal white lines. The lower plumage is black, streaked with white; the position and number of these streaks varying in different individuals, the streaks being sometimes distributed over the whole lower plumage and sometimes confined to the sides of the breast and body only.
The general colour of the upper plumage of the female is olive-brown, with a decided rufous tinge, stippled minutely with black or brown; the sides of the neck and the whole mantle with numerous spearhead-shaped white marks. The two middle tail-feathers are rufous, mottled with black chiefly on the outer web; the other tail-feathers are irregularly barred and marked with black, white and chestnut. The throat is whitish. The lower plumage is chocolate-brown, streaked with white, the streaks being narrow and not more than about one-sixth of an inch wide at the broadest part.
Length of male about 27 ; wing about 9 1/2; tail up to Length of female about 21; wing about 8 1/2; tail about 7 1/2. Legs brown; irides reddish brown; bill
greenish ; naked skin of the head crimson. Weight up to 3 lb.