71. ANDERSON'S SILVER PHEASANT.
Gennceus andersoni, (Elliot).
MALE :—The feathers of the mantle, upper back and wing-coverts, black, with 3 to 6 fine zigzag white lines on each web, running parallel to the margin of the feather; the feathers of the lower back and rump black, vermiculated with white, with a white fringe and a preceding black band; the three outer pairs of tail-feathers black.
FEMALE :—Not known.
Vernacular Name -.— Yit, Burmese.
The present species has caused great confusion in the study of the Silver-Pheasants by reason of the incorrect manner in which it was first described. I shall therefore proceed to lay before my readers a brief history of Anderson's Silver-Pheasant.
This Pheasant was discovered by Dr. Anderson in 1868 in the Kachin Hills,
This is not the G. andersoni of Mr. Ogilvie Grant (Cat. Birds B.M. vol xxii., p. 306), but the G. davisoni of that author (I.e. p. 304). east of Bhamo, where he procured a live specimen which was kept in Calcutta for some time. A drawing of this bird, made by a native artist, was sent to Mr. Elliot, who described the bird under the name of Euplocamus andersoni (P.Z. S. 1871, p. 137). Subsequently the skin of this very same bird was sent to Mr. Elliot, who re-described and figured it in his " Monograph of the Pheasants," (ii., pi. xxii). The two descriptions of this bird by Mr Elliot differ from each other in a very important particular. In the first description (taken from the drawing) a portion of the plumage is thus described : " entire upper parts greyish white, each feather having three or more black lines running parallel to the edge, and meeting towards the end." This description can only mean that the whole upper plumage was uniformly marked, and that the rump differed in no respect from the back.
In the second description (taken from the skin) Mr. Elliot says that the " feathers of the rump are like the back, but fringed with white, which overlaps the feather beneath and gives this part a beautiful silvery appearance." From this it seems clear that the rump presented a markedly different appearance to the back.
I am of opinion that when there is a discrepancy of this kind between two descriptions by the same author, we are justified in accepting as correct the description that was taken from the actual skin and not the one based on a native drawing. Fortunately, however, Dr. Anderson relieved us from any doubt on the subject by sending to the British Museum, in 1875, a skin of Anderson's Pheasant. Of this specimen he says that it agrees with the type in all essential details, but is somewhat younger (Yunnan Exped ., p. 670). This skin corresponds quite closely with Mr. Elliot's second description, especially in having beautiful white fringes to the rump-feathers.
It was Mr. Hume, many years ago (" Stray Feathers," vi,, p. 437), who first erroneously identified a Silver-Pheasant from Dargwin in Northern Tenasserim with Anderson's, Silver-Pheasant. In 1883, when I was writing the " Birds of British Burmah," I followed Mr. Hume, because in those days there was nothing to guide me to a different conclusion.
The case is different now. With the Hume Collection in this country, we are able to institute a comparison between the Tenasserim, and Dr. Anderson's, bird.
The latter corresponds well with Elliot's second, and more accurate, description; was procured in the same locality as the type specimen, and, as Dr. Anderson assures us, resembles the type. The former was procured 450 miles away from the locality where Anderson's Pheasant was found; and does not correspond at all with Elliot's second description, where the presence of beautiful fringes to the rump-feathers is specially brought to notice.
The above facts seem to prove conclusively that Dr. Anderson's specimen of a Silver-Pheasant in the British Museum from the Kachin Hills is the true G. andersoni, and may be looked upon as the co-type of that species, and further that Mr. Hume's Tenasserim specimen, so far from being G. andersoni, does not even bear a superficial resemblance to that bird, being entirely without the typical white rump-fringes of Anderson's Silver-Pheasant. It is therefore very disappointing to find the author of the " Catalogue" imposing a new name on Dr. Anderson's example from the Kachin Hills and following Mr. Hume in identifying the Tenasserim bird with .G. andersoni.
I shall now proceed to describe Anderson's Silver-Pheasant from the skin of the male bird sent by Dr. Anderson from the Kachin Hills, and now in the British Museum. The female is not known.
The crest is black. The mantle, the upper back and the wing-coverts are black, each feather with several zigzag white lines following the margin of the feather. On the wing-coverts there are usually three of these lines on each web, but on the mantle and upper back five or six. The quills in the closed wing are black, obliquely barred with white. The feathers of the lower back and rump are black, vermiculated rather widely with white lines. Each feather has a white fringe preceded by a black band, the latter occupying the space between the fringe and the first vermiculation. The two middle tail-feathers are black with numerous white lines more or less parallel to the shaft; the others are marked in a similar manner, but progressively with fewer white lines, the three outer pairs becoming practically black throughout. The whole lower plumage is glossy black.
Length about 24; wing nearly 9 1/2 ; tail about 11. The skin of the face appears to have been crimson and the legs flesh-coloured.