(1923) Gennaeus lineatus lineatus (Vigors).
THE BURMESE SILVER PHEASANT.
Gennaeus lineatus lineatus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 328.
The area occupied by this Pheasant includes the extreme South and East of the Arakan Yomae ; North they extend to Thoungyi, or about up to 20° West of the Sittang River but only as far as Thaungoo and Kolidoo on the East of that river and then only in the lower hills close to it. South it crosses the Sittang River, and a Silver Pheasant of some kind has been recorded from Yeh, as far South as 12°, though it is not quite certain that it is the same race. It does, however, occur in South-West peninsular Siam and in Tenasserim South of Tavoy. To the North it apparently works up the lower valleys and hills past Fort Stedman as far East as Kengtong, whence I have seen quite typical specimens.
Much still remains to be worked out regarding the distribution of this form and its nearest neighbours. The various races seem to wander into one another’s areas in the most curious manner, doubtless these being governed by some laws which we have not yet been able to ascertain, though elevation must have a great bearing upon it. Again, in all the intervening areas one finds inter¬mediate forms ranging from the extremes of each race to an extra- ordinary degree of variation.
Most of my correspondents say, as did Oates and Bingham in Hume’s time, that this Silver Pheasant breeds from the foot-hills up to 2,000 feet, rarely up to 4,000, and that it almost invariably selects bamboo-jungle, thick secondary growth or scrub in which to breed, and that it is very rarely found in the humid evergreen forest. Gyldenstolpe, however (Swed, Exped. Siam, p. 157, 1816), writes:—“Silver pheasants belonging to this species were rather common in the dense evergreen jungle which covers the hills dividing Tenasserim and Siam. In the neighbourhood of Hat Sanuk (lat. N. 12°) they Were exceedingly abundant. During my stay in North-West Siam I once caught a glimpse of a Silver Pheasant when I was climbing up one of the steep hills at Doi Par Satring (lat. N. 20°). It looked much more white than G. lineatus, and was probably G. nycthemerus ripponi.”
Cook, who sent me several clutches of eggs from Tenasserim, writes:—“I found several nests in bamboo-jungle or in thin scrub round about cultivation near villages, I found none in forest.”
Mackenzie and Hopwood both say almost exactly the same, but at Thoungyin Stockley came across a Silver Pheasant in very thick forest where it was a tangle of fallen and living trees with the thickest of undergrowth (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxix, p. 174, 1923).
The nest is the usual collection of leaves and debris, with a depres¬sion in the centre for the eggs. Very often this is placed at the foot of a clump of bamboos, sometimes right in the clump, while at other times it may be among bushes and scrub.
I have now seen a big series of this Pheasant’s egga, mostly taken by Cook, Mackenzie and Hopwood, but so far all have been laid in March and April ; Oates and Bingham also found eggs only in these two months.
Five to seven eggs form the full clutch and none larger has been recorded.
They follow the usual range of variation but most are a warm creamy buff, while I have seen no eggs nearly white or very pale cream. On the other hand, I have one clutch, taken by Cook, exceptionally deep red-buff.
Forty eggs average 47.7 x 36.9 mm. : maxima 50.2 x 36.7 and 48.2 x 38.2 mm. ; minima 44.1 x 35.9 and 47.1 x 35.5 mm.
Oates writes : “The chickens, as soon as they are hatched, are very strong on their legs and run with great speed. It is astonishing in what a short time the little birds make themselves invisible. The mother is a great coward, running away at the slightest alarm.”
As regards the chicks the deseription of the above would do for those of all species, hut many Kalij Pheasants show the greatest concern for their young, though, probably, the safest thing for the chicks is to clear off at once and trust to their hiding themselves instinctively. If one keeps quite quiet after disturbing a brood of Kalij chicks, the mother very soon returns and calls from close by, and then one sees each tiny chick become visible and run to its mother.
In about ten days, or less, the chicks fly well and fast, and then escape by flying and no longer attempt concealment.
1923. Gennseus lineatus lineatus
(1923) Gennaeus lineatus lineatus (Vigors).