Gennaeus melanonotus


Gennaeus melanonotus.

Mathura, Bengali.

The black-backed kalij of Sikkim, although generally similar to the last two species, blue-black above and dirty white below, differs from both in having no white at all on the upper surface, not only the crest, but also the rump being blue-black continuous with the rest of the upper parts, whose silky purple seems to me particularly uniform and rich in this species. The crest, as in the last species, is not so long as in the white-crested kind; but the bird seems to be quite as large. The weights of these kalijes, however, intergrade so that size cannot be considered of any importance in dealing with them.

The hen is of the same sober brown as that of the other two, with narrow crest; but like that of the Nepal kalij, she is rather darker altogether than the hen of the white-crested bird. The legs are described as pale horny brown, darker than those of the white-crested.

This kalij extends into Bhutan on one side of its range, while on the other it encroaches on Nepal, but its characteristic home is Sikkim; its Lepcha name is Kar-rhyak, Kirrik in Bhutan. It ranges from quite the foot of the hills up to 6,000 feet, and is common in tea gardens, or used to be, but more than a generation ago Hume noted that the garden coolies used to find its nests among the tea and destroy its eggs, so that he anticipated it would become comparatively rare, especially as it was inclined to affect the outer hills which were being taken up for tea-cultivation rather than the interior.

It always keeps to cover of some sort, and is just as much at home among the tea as in jungly growth ; ravines well bushed over are its favourite haunts. Gammie found it very tame in Sikkim, so that when met with feeding on the roads in morning and evening it would only walk out of the way when disturbed. During the day it shuns the sun, and seldom perches unless put up by some enemy on the ground. Human intruders it avoids by running, or if that is impossible takes a short low flight and settles on the ground again. Its alarm note is given by Gammie as koorchi, koorchi, koorchi, while the challenge call is koor, koor and the fighting note waak, waak. The same drumming with the wings as is indulged in by other kalijes is also performed by this one, and the natives, apparently with reason, regard it as a presage of rain.

It is a very omnivorous bird, eating all sorts of insects, except ants, which the natives told Gammie were refused by captive birds ; beetle grubs and wild yams, and the fruits of the totney and yellow raspberry, are favourite articles of food, and grain of all sorts is readily devoured, with the shoots of nettles and even ferns. The flesh is not very good, and the bird affords little sport, being a great runner, and affecting cover so thick that even a dog can do little in it.

About Darjeeling it has been noticed to be very constant to its roosting-trees and even keeps to the same bough, so that it is easily located by its accumulated droppings. It generally goes in pairs or only three or four together, and the cocks fight much in the breeding season.

Although in the higher parts of its range hard-set eggs have been found at the end of July, at the other end of its zone, low down, they may be laid in March, no one seems to have seen any sort of a nest constructed, the eggs being laid in grass or under cover of bush, fern, or rocks on the ground itself. Hume never heard of more than ten eggs in a clutch,, and their colour varies from pale brown to pinkish cream-colour.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Gennaeus melanonotus
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Black Backed Kalij
Lophura leucomelanos melanota

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