(1933) Tragopan blythi blythi.
THE GREY-BELLIED TRAGOPAN.
Ceriornis blythi Jerdon, P. A. S. B., 1870, p. 60 (Henema, Naga Hills). Tragopan blythi. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 102.
Vernacular names. Hur-huria (Assam and Miri) San-sorai (Assam, Sadya); Gnu (Angami Naga); Aghah (Sema Naga); Aogho (Chang Naga); Chingtho (Kuki).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead, crown, a patch down either side of the neck and feathers round the bare facial and gular skin black; broad supercilia, nape and occiput, remainder of neck, extreme upper back, shoulders of wing and upper breast crimson Indian-red, occasionally with a tinge of orange ; remainder of upper plumage and wing-coverts black, each feather with numerous semi-concentric bars of buff, a terminal ocellus of white edged with olive-brown and black and two subterminal ocelli of deep maroon-red, also edged olive-brown and black; the basal mottling of black and buffi are entirely concealed, so that the upper plumage seems to be a mass of white and maroon ocelli; longest upper tail-coverts whitish with narrow edges of olive-brown, next to these edges are bars of black and then broader bars of red-brown fading into the white; tail black with irregular broken bars of rich buff on the basal third; bastard-wing light brick-red on the outer webs, mottled with black on the inner webs; primaries and outer secondaries brownish-black, with broken buff bars, obsolete on the inner webs of the primaries; lower breast and abdomen smoky-grey, the centres paler and showing up distinctly against the rather darker margins; flanks and thighs with black and buff mottlings and these parts, the vent, and sometimes the under tail-coverts splashed with crimson-red.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown; bill dark horny, gape and commissure paler and tinged with fleshy ; legs dull yellowish or reddish-brown, brighter and redder in the breeding-season; horns bright pale blue, rarely with a verdigris-green tinge; lappet orange-yellow or yellow, palest on the lower portion, orange and mottled with red on the upper part as well as on the orbital skin and cheeks; the lower part is edged with pale blue and blue veinings run in from the edge to the centre.
Measurements. Wing 260 to 265 mm.; tail 180 to 220 mm.; tarsus 82 to 94 mm.: culmen about 10 mm.; the horns in the breeding-season measure 26 to 32 mm.; the lappet about 75 mm. long by about 36 mm. broad.
Female. Whole upper plumage black with narrow bars, patches and stippling of rufous; in addition each feather has a Y-shaped or crescentic central mark of buff, a few having two of these marks besides longitudinal marks of the same colour; the tail is lighter and has much of the black replaced by rich rufous; chin and throat white with brown spots, the former almost immaculate ; lower plumage and flanks mottled and stippled with very dark brown, dull rufous and greyish-white, the latter forming distinct spots on many of the leathers; centre of abdomen and vent more grey and uniform ; under tail-coverts darker and more richly coloured.
Measurements. Wing 230 to 245 mm.
Young male like the female but changing m the first Spring moult from this to a plumage halfway between that of the male and female.
Distribution. The hills South of the Brahmapootra from the Barail Range in North Cachar and the Naga Hills Eastwards through the Patkoi Range into North-West Burma and South-Eastwards through Manipur into the Chin Hills.
Nidification. The breeding-season of this Pheasant commences an early April and lasts well into May. The Nagas say that they make a rough but bulky nest of twigs and leaves in trees at any height from ten to twenty feet and that they only lay from two to five eggs, generally three or four. A hen in my own aviaries persistently tried to lay her eggs on a perch until I gave her a box of twigs placed on a bough at the top of the aviary, when she laid in that. Boxes on the ground she would have nothing to do with. The two eggs saved were a pale buff, the texture, as usual, smooth and fairly fine but very stout and strong. They measure 59.7 x 42.6 and 57.8 x 45.4 mm. A third egg laid by a hen in another box high up measured 58.6 x 43.7 mm. The colour is pale buff obsoletely freckled with chocolate.
A wild bird displayed to a hen in my presence in the following manner. After several semi-displays he stopped ; suddenly he shook himself violently, the horns inflated and shot quite forward and the bib rolled out to its full extent; standing still in front of the hen, he leant forward until his breast touched the ground, both wings fully extended were raised above his back so that he looked like a gorgeous fan, his horns quivering and his bib nervously contracting and expanding. For a few seconds he remained thus and then just as suddenly he collapsed into a normal Pheasant, scratching and hunting for food.
Habits. The Grey-bellied Tragopan is found principally between 6,000 and 9,000 feet in very dense evergreen-forest with plenty of undergrowth, where it goes about in small parties of four or five. It feeds on all kinds of seeds, berries, fruit and buds, whilst those I had in aviaries greedily ate worms, insects and small frogs. Their call is a very fine sonorous " Wak," sometimes lengthened into " Wa-ai-ai " and very reminescent of a Peacock's call, though much less harsh. They are not shy birds and are very easily caught in nooses, though it is a difficult matter to get a shot at them.