64. THE COMMON KOKLASS-PHEASANT.
Pucrasia macrolopha, (Lesson).
MALE :—Upper plumage and sides of the body ashy streaked with black; the feathers of the breast and belly rich chestnut.
FEMALE :—General colour rufous streaked with black ; throat white.
Vernacular Names -.—Phokrass, Kumaon and Garhwal; Koklass, Kokla, Almora to Simla ; Koak, Kulu, Mandi; Plas, Kashmir; Kukrola, Kuk, Chamba.
The Common Koklass or Pukras-Pheasant is found in the Himalayas from Kumaon to the extreme western border of Kashmir. It is probable that this species occupies the southern half of Kashmir, and that Marshall's Koklass inhabits the northern half, but our information on this point is incomplete.
This Pheasant ranges from 3000 feet to 14,000 feet of elevation, but the usual limits of its summer residence lie between 6000 feet and 9000 feet. For the habits of this species I again quote from " Mountaineer." He says :—
"This is another forest Pheasant common to the whole of the wooded regions, from an elevation of about 4000 feet to nearly the extreme limits of forest, but is most abundant in the lower and intermediate ranges. In the lower regions its favourite haunts are in wooded ravines, but it is found in nearly all hill sides which are covered with trees or bushes, from the summit of the ridges to about half way down. Farther in the interior, it is found scattered in all parts, from near the foot of the hills to the top, or as far as the forest reaches, seeming most partial to the deep sloping forest composed of oak, chestnut, and Morenda pine,l with box, yew and other trees intermingled, and a thick underwood of Ringall.
" The Koklass is of a rather retired and solitary disposition. It is generally found singly or in pairs; and except the brood of young birds, which keep pretty well collected till nearly the end of the winter, they seldom congregate much together. Where numerous, several are often put up at no great distance from each other, as if they, were members of one lot; but when more thinly scattered, it is seldom that more than two old birds are found together; and at whatever season, when one is found, its mate may almost to a certainty be found somewhere near. This would lead one to imagine that many pairs do not separate after the business of incubation is over, but keep paired for several successive years. In forests where there is little grass or underwood, they get up as soon as aware of the approach of any one near, or run quickly along the ground to some distance; but where there is much cover they lie very close and will not get up till forced by dogs or beaters. When put up by dogs, they often fly up into a tree close by, which they rarely do when flushed by beaters or the sportsman him¬self, then flying a long way and generally alighting on the ground. Their flight is rapid in the extreme, and after a few whirs they sometimes shoot down like lightning. They sometimes utter a few low chuckles before getting up, and rise sometimes with a low screeching chatter and sometimes silently. The males often crow at daybreak and occasionally at all hours."
The Koklass breeds from April to June and deposits from five to nine eggs in a hole scraped in the ground under the shelter of a bush or stone or at the foot of a tree. The eggs are buff, speckled with reddish brown, and measure from 1.85 to 2.29 in length, and from 1.39 to 1.57 in breadth.
The male has the middle and shorter feathers of the crest buff, the lateral and longer feathers, together with the whole head, glossy black, and a large patch of white on each side of the neck. The whole upper plumage and the wings are ashy, each feather with a black streak down the middle. The quills of the wing are dark brown, except the outer web of the second to the sixth, which is rufous. The middle tail-feathers are chestnut tipped with grey; the others have the inner web black and the outer web chestnut at the base and black towards the end and the whole feather tipped with white. The foreneck, the breast and the belly are rich chestnut. The sides of the breast and the sides of the body are ashy streaked with black like the upper plumage. The feathers under the tail are deep chestnut tipped with white.
The female has the whole upper plumage and visible portion of the closed wings rufous buff much mottled and blotched with black and many of the feathers with rufous shaft-streaks. The quills of the wing are dark brown with the outer web of the second to the sixth quill rufous. The tail is largely chestnut marked with black and tipped with white. A broad rufous band spotted with black passes over the eye to the lateral feathers of the crest. The sides of the head are rufous, barred with black. The chin, the throat and a diagonal band down the side of the neck are white, all the feathers at the sides and base of the throat being fringed with black. The lower plumage is pale rufous, both webs of each feather with a long triangular black streak. The belly is very pale buff, marked with black. The feathers under the tail are mixed black and chestnut and tipped white.
Length of male about 24 ; wing about 9 1/2 ; tail about 10. Length of female about 21 ; wing nearly 9 ; tail about 7 1/2. egs ashy; irides dark brown ; bill black. Weight up to 2 lb. 14 oz