(1901) Polyplectron bicalcaratum bakeri.
THE BHUTAN PEACOCK-PHEASANT.
Polyplectron bicalcaratum bakeri Lowe, Ibis, 1925, p. 477 (Bhotan Duars). Polyplectrum chinquis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 73 (part.).
Vernacular names. Monnowar, Deyodahuk, Deoderick (Assam); Deo-durrug (Garo): Dao-dip, Dao-dai-dip (Cachari); Burruminrui (Kacha Naga).
Description. Both sexes differ from the preceding form in being much greyer and much less buff in colour. Most of the buff markings are replaced with white.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements about the same as in the Burmese form.
Distribution. Sikkim, Bhutan to East Assam, Cachar, Sylhet and Manipur. Comilla birds are intermediate whilst Chittagong birds are nearer true Polyplectron bicalcaratum.
Nidification. The Peacock-Pheasant breeds in great numbers all along the lower hills of Assam and the adjoining plains, where the ground is more or less broken and the jungle dense. The two favourite nesting-sites are ravines in forest with very dense undergrowth and the thick tangled secondary growth on deserted cultivation. It breeds very rarely up to 4,000 feet but its real haunts are below 2,000 feet in the hottest, wettest jungles. The first few eggs are laid in March, most in April and a few as late as June. No nest is made as a rule, just a pile of leaves and rubbish scraped together in some natural hollow, but Clarke describes a nest made of twigs and leaves lined with feathers, sufficiently well built to bear removal. The normal clutch is two eggs but I have myself taken nests with three to five eggs, whilst Coltart took one containing six, or, so far as we could judge, were these the product of more than one bird. The eggs are like small, richly-coloured eggs of the domestic fowl but nearly all have the whole surface minutely stippled with small chalky pits, which give them a very distinctive character. They are exceptionally thick-shelled heavy eggs. Forty average 46.5 x 35.9 mm.: maxima 50.3 x 37.0 and 48.2 x 38.1 mm.- minima 43.2 x 35.0 and 44.0x 34.0 mm.
Habits. This Peacock-Pheasant has been recorded at an elevation of 6,000 feet in the Darjiling Hills but it is seldom it found over 4,000 and is common below 2,000 feet, where haunts dense forest and jungle. It is a most inveterate skulker and a first-rate runner, so that without dogs it is almost impossible to flush. On the wing it is slow and heavy, though it gets up a considerable velocity when it swoops down the face of a steep hill. Its call-note is a deep guttural "boo" rapidly repeated and it has a large vocabulary of low, soft, chuckling notes. Its food consists of insects, worms, beetles, small frogs, grain and seeds etc. and its flesh, though rather dry, is very well flavoured. The display of this Pheasant is very beautiful, both wings being fully expanded with the tail, so that the whole looks like a beautifully-ocellated fan. The wide tail is used as a screen for the young birds, who move about under its shelter close to the heels of the parent. They are, I think, monogamous and probably pair for life.