(1932) Tragopan melanocephalus.
THE WESTERN HORNED PHEASANT.
Phasianus melanocephalus Gray, in Griff, ed. Cuv., iii, p. 29 (1829) (Almorah). Tragopan melanocephalus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 100.
Vernacular names. Jowar (Garhwali) ; Jaghi, Jatjhi (Basahir); Sing-Monal (N. W. Him.); Jigurana, Bodal (Kulu, Mandi, Suket); Falgar (Chamba).
Description.— Adult male. Head, except bare skin of face and throat, black, the longer crest-feathers tipped crimson ; neck all round below the black crimson-red ; remainder of upper parts greyish-ochre vermiculated with black bars and with white, black-edged ocelli; interscapulars often strongly tinged with rufous, looking darker and richer than elsewhere; longest upper tail-coverts with black tips and large white central patches edged with rufous ; tail mottled black and ochre with broad black terminal bars ; shoulder of wing crimson-red ; wing-coverts like the back but with larger ocelli and more ochre mottling; innermost secondaries mottled ochre and black with terminal heart-shaped white ocelli surrounded with olive-rufous and black and a few olive-rufous almond-shaped spots surrounded with black only; bristly feathers of fore-neck and upper breast a gorgeous orange flame-colour; remaining lower plumage black with bold white ocelli; the bases of the feathers are red and show up everywhere; flanks, vent and under tail-coverts more or less mottled with ochre and brown; under wing-coverts mottled brown and ochre and marked with crimson ; axillaries deep brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black or blackish-brown ; orbital skin bright red; horns bright pale blue, sometimes tinged with green; lappet bright fleshy-pink, a deep purple line down the centre and triangular patches of blue with their bases joining on the centre line; on the lower part of the cheeks there are bluish-green caruncles; legs and feet fleshy-grey or fleshy-red with a tinge of purple-,, deeper and redder in the breeding-season.
Measurements. Wing 257 to 290 mm.; tail 221 to 247 mm.; tarsus 78 to 97 mm.; culmen 17 to 20 mm.
Weights of freshly-killed birds from Kashmir 4 to 4 3/4 lb.
Female. Above pale grey, profusely vermiculated with black and with black patches on the scapulars and inner secondaries and, to a less extent, on the back; the feathers of these parts have also here and there white central streaks or arrowhead marks; on the head and neck the tint is rather more rufous with the centre of the crown blackish, the feathers white-centred; tail vermiculated black and grey with a broad subterminal band of black on all but the central tail-feathers; below finely vermiculated grey and dark brown, the feathers of the chin, throat and sides of the head with pale fulvous centres and those of the breast and abdomen with spatulate white centres edged with black.
In the female of T. melanocephalus the whole appearance is that of a grey bird instead of rufous-brown as in T. satyra.
Measurements. Wing 225 to 250 mm.
Young males are like the females but the marks below are rounded and less spatulate in shape.
Distribution. Prom the West bank of the Bhagirathi River in Garhwal to Hazara and Kashmir.
Nidification. Lautour took a clutch of four eggs of this bird from a rough stick-nest built on the ground in Pine-forest between 8,000 and 11,000 feet in a place where there had been a land-slip. Whymper also found a "respectable loose stick-nest with a little grass lining " at about 11,000 feet in Ringal jungle in Garhwal, the eggs of which had been destroyed by vermin. This nest also was on the ground, yet the natives assert that normally the Tragopan is a tree-builder and certainly birds in captivity prefer to nest, if given the choice, in boxes placed well up in trees or on shelves rather than in those on the ground. The eggs are typical of the genus but average decidedly paler and duller than those of T. satyra. The few, including those laid in captivity, which I have been able to measure average 62.2 x 42.0 mm. and vary very little in size or shape.
Habits. Those of the genus. They appear to consort in small family-parties except during the actual breeding-season and it is by no means a rare bird still in many parts of Kashmir and Garhwal, though its secretive habits make it appear to be so. It comes comparatively low down in Winter and Donald has shot it at 4,000 feet. He says that it is one of the best of game-birds for the table.