Tragopan blythi

GREY-BREASTED or Blyth'S Tragopan.

Tragopan blythi.

Sansaria, Assamese.

The grey-breasted tragopan is distinguished at once from, our other species by the spotless smoke-grey of the under-parts, although the upper plumage is mottled much as in our other species, and the neck is of the same red ; the fleshy horns are also of the usual blue, but the face-skin is bright rich yellow, bordered with green where it ends on the throat. Although I have seen the bird alive, I have never witnessed its display, so cannot give the colour of the bib, which of course can only be properly seen in the live bird.

Although rather smaller the hen is very similar to that of the crimson tragopan, but the under plumage is less rich in tint, and there is more of the black peppering in the grizzled brown of the upper plumage.

Little is known of this beautiful bird, although it was described by Jerdon as long ago as 1869; it is best known from the Naga Hills, though it also ranges into Manipur and Gachar, and has been reported from the Daphla Hills also. The Nagas, who know it by the name of gnu, are in the habit of catching it " by laying a line of snares across a ravine which they are known to frequent, and then, with a large circle of beaters, driving the birds down to them. They go as quietly as possible, so as not to frighten the birds sufficiently to make them take flight, as if not much alarmed they prefer running." This bird's habits are, in fact, evidently much the same as those of other tragopans, the group being as much alike in their ways as they are in their general appearance, although the species are so well characterized and distinct. The cry is evidently some sort of a bleat as in the other species, as it is said to be expressed in the syllable " AH"

The habitat of the bird is high jungle, and it does not seem to range lower than 5,000 feet, while going up to the tops of its native hills. The breeding season is said to be in April, and three or four eggs to form the full clutch ; these eggs appear to be of the buff, brown-spotted type, normal in the group.

In Cachar Mr. E. G. S. Baker once watched, in April, a pair, of which the male was " busy courting the hen who refused all advances. They behaved exactly like domestic fowls, and the cock kept running round the female with trailing wing." This, however, judging from what has been seen of other better-known tragopans, would only be the simpler and commoner form of display, so that the full show posture evidently remains to be recorded.

One of the first specimens known was sent home alive to the Zoo, and they have had several others since; in fact, the bird seems to have become better known in captivity than in its wild state.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Tragopan blythi
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Grey-breasted Or Blyth's Tragopan
Blyth's Tragopan
Tragopan blythii
Term name: 

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