76. THE SALWEEN SILVER-PHEASANT.
Gennceus sharpii, n.sp.
MALE :—The whole upper plumage black, each feather with white lines parallel to the margin of the feather; with white streaks on the lower plumage; no fringes on the rump.
FEMALE :—Neck and mantle with spearhead-shaped white marks ; inner quills of the wing with narrow oblique buff bars.
Vernacular Name :—Yit, Burmese.
The Salween Silver-Pheasant inhabits the higher hills which separate Burma from Siam and the Shan States. Whereas the Lineated Silver-Pheasant does not occur above 2,000 feet elevation, the present species is apparently found at greater heights. There are four specimens of this Pheasant in the British Museum, and if we look into the localities where they were obtained, we shall find that they are.
I have much pleasure in naming this species after my friend Dr. Bowdler Sharpe. all situated at a considerable elevation. Two specimens, a male and a female, were obtained at Dargwin, 18 miles north of Papun, a police stockade standing at an elevation of 2500 feet. One specimen, a male, was shot at Kollidoo, 28 miles N. by W. of Papun at the elevation of 3500 feet; and the fourth specimen, a male, was obtained by Major Wardlaw Ramsay in the Karen Hills, east of Toungoo, which rise to 6000 feet and are seldom at any point below 3000 feet.
If we examine the Silver-Pheasants from Papun itself, which is only 200 or 300 feet above the sea, and from Kadintee, which place Mr. Hume informs us is in low hills 30 miles N.W. of Papun, we find them to be typical examples of the Lineated Silver-Pheasant. It would therefore seem established that the Lineated and the Salween Silver-Pheasants, although they are found together in the same district, yet affect different zones of altitude.
This species probably extends a considerable distance into Siam and the Southern Shan States.
It is this species which Mr. Hume, first in " Stray Feathers " (vol. vi., p. 437) and afterwards in the "Game Birds of India " (vol. i., p. 203), and Mr. Ogilvie Grant (Cat. Birds B. M., vol. xxii., p. 306), identify with Anderson's Silver-Pheasant. I have said enough on the subject in dealing with the latter species, and I can only repeat my conviction that the two birds are totally distinct. This seems the place to notice a remark made by Mr. Hume some years ago ("Stray Feathers," vol. vi., p. 521). He assures us that he compared his specimen of this species from Tenasserim with a Pheasant from Bhamo and found the two precisely similar. This Bhamo specimen is not in the Hume Collection, but it seems to me extremely probable that the bird was not Anderson's Silver-Pheasant, as Mr. Hume evidently presumed it to be, but a specimen of my next species, the Ruby-Mines Silver-Pheasant. This latter bird no doubt occurs in the Bhamo District, as well as in the Ruby-Mines District. The present species and the Ruby-Mines bird are certainly very much of the same type, and might he considered alike by some naturalists. To Mr. Hume, the coarser markings, the longer tail and the red feet of the one species, as against the finer markings, the shorter tail and the flesh coloured feet of the other, might not appear matters of any importance. Moreover, also, the Bhamo skin may have been a badly prepared, or possibly defective, native skin; for in those days, long before Upper Burma was annexed, no European would have been allowed to go to the tracts where the Ruby-Mines Pheasant is found.
The male has the crest glossy black. The upper plumage is black, each feather of the mantle, upper back and wing-coverts with five or six white lines on each web, curved and parallel to the margin of the feather. The white lines on the visible parts of the quills in the closed wings are coarse and about a quarter of an inch apart. The rump-feathers are marked like those of the back, but with finer and more frequent white lines, and there is no trace of a white fringe at the tips. The tail and the lower plumage resemble the same parts in the Lineated Silver-Pheasant.
The female of this species differs from the female Lineated Silver-Pheasant in having the inner quills of the wing barred with wavy, narrow lines of buff and blotched with black, and in having the white streaks on the lower plumage much broader, about a quarter of an inch wide at the widest part.
Length of male about 30 ; wing about 10; tail about 14. Length of female about 24; wing about 9; tail about 9 1/2. The legs are flesh-coloured, the irides brown, the bill bluish horny and the skin of the face crimson. Weight of male 2 3/4 lb.