(1926) Gennaeus nycthemerus ripponi.
THE YUNNAN- SILVER PHEASANT.
Gennaeus ripponi Sharpe, Bull. B. O. C, xiii, p. 29 (1902) (S. Shan. States).
Vernacular names. Yit (Burma); Wuri (Kachin). Description.— Adult male. Forehead, crown and crest black with a strong purple sheen ; nape to tale-coverts white with from five to seven wavy lines of black on each web following the outline of the feather; the lines are narrower on the nape and obsolete on the ear-coverts and sides of the neck; visible portions of the wing like the back but only two to four black lines on each web of the feathers, broader than the lines on the back ; two or three central pairs of tail-feathers white with a few irregular broken lines of black on the bases of the outer webs; outermost feathers white with two or three bold black lines on either web; intermediate feathers grading from one to another ; below deep velvety-black with a purple-blue gloss.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or red-brown; bill greenish or yellowish-horny, the culmen and base darker: bare facial skin bright crimson-red to almost vermilion-red; legs brilliant coral-red.
Measurements. Wing 256 to 302 mm.; tail 458 to 635 mm.; tarsus 95 to 103 mm.; culmen about 29 to 31 mm.; crest 75 to 101 mm.; spur 25 to 33 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage golden-brown, the edges of each feather darker and the whole microscopically powdered with dark brown ; terminal half of crest black; two central pairs of tail-feathers pale ashy-buff marked with fine broken bars of dark brown; lateral tail-feathers black with straggling broken lines of white; chin and upper throat pale ashy, changing to ashy-brown on the lower throat and upper breast, the latter paler and much mottled with brown spots and bars; lower breast still paler and more boldly marked ; remainder of lower plumage rather dingy white with bold broad bars of dark brown; centre of abdomen and vent duller with much finer bars of brown.
Measurements. Wing about 200 to 240.
Young birds in first plumage have the whole lower parts more uniform buffy-brown with paler shaft-streaks.
Young males in second plumage appear to be exactly like adult females, but occasionally they moult direct into full adult plumage. A most interesting incident in the moulting of some cock birds in the possession of Mr. E. G. Herbert shows that many of the old feathers prior to being shed assumed a certain amount of black-and-white colouring, proving conclusively that in some cases so called "dead feathers " are capable of absorbing pigment.
Distribution. Inter-Salwin country from latitudes 21° to 25° certainly, possibly further North and probably further South. Where this bird meets the last is not definitely known but it may be on a line running East and West from Karenni to Doi-par-Sahem. It is extremely common in parts of Yunnan at about 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Nidification. Nothing known.
Habits. Although this grand Pheasant is sometimes found in forest, it is more usually to be met with in the thin scattered oak-forest of about 7,000 feet upwards where patches of forest alternate with wide stretches of upland, covered with grass a foot to three feet high and dotted here and there with stunted oaks. In these sunlit bleached grass-expanses the dazzling white of the Pheasant's back, broken by the black streaks, is not only inconspicuous but is very hard to make out. It is, like all the genus, a great skulker and runner, and once on the wing is, naturally, a most conspicuous object, as well as a noisy one. Its crow is that of the genus, a harsh deep note not unlike that of Phasianus but more guttural. They are said often to collect in small coveys of six to eight birds composed entirely of cocks.