Gennaeus nycthernerus


Gennaeus nycthernerus.

The lovely silver pheasant, for the last century domesticated at home, is not known as a wild bird in India, but as he lives as near as South China, and his hybrid offspring infest our bordering states, to the great bewilderment of sportsmen and naturalists, he comes into the tangled tale of the pencilled-backed kalijes. The cock silver pheasant has a folded tail, but it is long, and the top feathers are so long and arched that the general effect looks quite different from that of the tail of other kalijes. These top feathers are pure white, and white is the ground colour of the rest of the plumage except for the blue-black underparts and crest. The black pencilling is regular, but extremely fine and inconspicuous except on the wings and side tail-feathers. The crest droops as in the white-crested or common kalij, but is far fuller than in that or any other species. The legs are red as well as the face in both sexes. The hen has a short crest, hardly noticeable, and black; and perfectly plain brown plumage, the only markings being irregular black and white pencilling on the outside tail feathers. Young birds have this pencilling on the breast, and the cock, which does not get his full colour till the second year, goes through a most peculiar series of changes before and while moulting into it, the feathers appearing to change colour without a moult to some extent. A maturing specimen of this sex might easily be referred to half a dozen species at various times, as species have been reckoned in this group.

The form known as Anderson's silver pheasant (Gennaeus andersoni) from the Kachin Hills and the Ruby Mines, seems simply to be a hybrid between this bird and the lineated kalij ; but the bird figured by Hume as Crawford's silver pheasant (Euplocamus andersoni on plate) seems to me the same bird with a further cross of the lineated. As further intermediate forms occur between these half-silver pheasants and the purple kalij, and as that bird also undoubtedly grades into the lineated kalij where their ranges approach, through more interbreeding, it will be seen that it is very difficult to draw any lines between all these black-breasted kalijes, silvered or plain; and we may ultimately have to come to the astonishing conclusion that they are all of the same species, of which the type will have to be the Chinese silver pheasant, as the oldest kind known.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Gennaeus nycthernerus
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Silver Pheasant
Silver Pheasant
Lophura nycthemera
Term name: 

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