53. THE GREY-BELLIED HORNED PHEASANT.
Tragopan blythi, (Jerdon).
MALE :—Lower plumage smoky-grey.
FEMALE :—Hardly distinguishable from the female Crimson Horned Pheasant, but rather blacker above, and with the patches or streaks on the lower plumage greyish creamy instead of buff.
Vernacular Names . — Hurr-hurrea, Soonsooria, Assam ; Gnu, Naga Hills.
This Pheasant, which was discovered by Dr. Jerdon in 1869, has a considerable range. Dr. R. Cran received it from the Daphla Hills, on the north of the Bhramaputra River. On the southern side of the same river, this Horned Pheasant has been observed throughout the hill-tracts extending from Sadiya on the east to the Burrail Range on the west. It was procured by Dr. Watt in Manipur, and Major G. Rippon informs me that he observed this species in the Chin Hills on the road up to Fort White. How much farther south its range may extend is not known.
This Pheasant is found in dense forest country up to an elevation of 10,000 feet, and probably does not occur below 4000 feet. I can learn nothing of its habits, except that the call is said to resemble the syllable "ak."
In the British Museum there is an egg of this Pheasant which was laid in confinement at Sadiya, in Assam. This egg resembles closely the eggs of Temminck's Horned Pheasant in the same collection, and measures 2.42 by 1.71. It has hardly any gloss; the ground-colour is pale reddish buff, and the shell is minutely speckled all over with reddish brown.
In the male the forehead and the middle part of the crown and crest are black. The sides of the crown and crest, the ears, the neck all round and the upper part of the chest are dull crimson. A black band borders the throat and is continued over the ears to the back of the head. The general aspect of the upper plumage and wings is maroon with zigzag buff and black bars, each feather tipped with a whitish round spot surrounded by black. The tail is black, barred with rufous, except near the tips of the feathers. The quills of the wing are barred and mottled with rufous on both webs. The longer tail-coverts are white margined with chestnut and tipped white. The general aspect of the lower plumage is smoky grey, each feather rather paler towards its tip. The sides of the body are adorned with grey spots, each of which has a whitish centre, and each feather has moreover a broad edging of maroon.
The British Museum does not possess a female bird of this species, and I am indebted to the Hon. Walter Rothschild for the loan of two specimens of this sex. These birds closely resemble the female Crimson Horned Pheasant, and do not require a separate detailed description. They are, as already pointed out by Messrs. Hume and Marshall, rather darker above, being decidedly blackish ; and the patches or streaks on the feathers of the lower plumage are of a greyish creamy instead of a buff colour. I can discover no other differences that appear to be constant.
Length of the male about 24; wing about 10; tail about 7 1/2 ; legs brown; irides brown; the naked skin round the eye orange ; the horns blue, and the gular flap yellow tinged with blue. The female is smaller than the male in the same proportion as in the other species. The orbital skin in the female is said to be light brown.