Temminck's tragopan, as may be judged from its alternative name of Chinese crimson tragopan, is a bird whose most conspicuous colour is red, as in our eastern Indian species ; but the Chinese bird is a perfectly distinct species, not a mere local race, although the two are undoubtedly far nearer to each other than either is to any of the few other tragopans known.
The characteristic points of the Chinese bird are, first, the bareness of the face, which permits the bright blue colour of the skin to appear, and makes the bird in life conspicuously different from the Indian bird with its black-feathered countenance ; and secondly, the fact that the plumage is spotted, not with white, but with grey, and that these light spots have not the black borders which so throw up the pearl spangling of the crimson tragopan of India. The spots are also larger in Temminck's tragopan, especially on the under-surface, where as much grey shows as red, the feathers being practically grey with broad red borders.
The bib, as expanded during courtship, is of apparently the same colour in both tragopans, being blue with a row of scarlet patches down each side; at least that is what I have noted, having seen each species display.
I can give no criterion for distinguishing the hen of this bird from that of the Indian crimson tragopan ; but as no two tragopans have been found living together in our borders as yet, the problem of separating these is not likely to arise.
As it occurs on the Mishmi Hills, the Chinese crimson tragopan was long suspected to be a likely resident in our borders, and this suspicion became certainty in 1903, when Mr. E. C. S. Baker reported to the Bombay Natural History Society on two specimens which had been '' shot by Mr. W. Scott, Civil Officer of the Sadon Hill Tracts, on the Panseng Pass at a height of 9,000 feet. Mr. Scott in a forwarding letter described the bird's call as "one single, high note, not unlike a cat's mew."
It is the south-western and central parts of China that are the best, known home of this species, but it appears to be, according to Mr. Baker, very common above 8,000 feet on the Mishmi, Dafla, and Abu Hills ; in Sadya it is found on the high ranges within only a dozen miles of the frontier police posts.
Pere David, writing of its habits in China, says it is not common anywhere; it lives alone on bush-covered hills and rarely comes out of its cover, where it feeds on seeds, fruits, and leaves. He says its very sonorous cry can be represented by the syllable oua twice repeated, whence one of its Chinese names ; the syllable ky means fowl, as in the two other names, Ko or Kiao-ky (horned fowl) or Sin-tsiou-ky (starred fowl). He says it is a much esteemed game bird, all the more so because it is so scarce and can only be captured by a trap or springe.
In captivity in Europe it is as well known as the Indian species, or at any rate used to be, but of late years I have only seen the Indian crimson bird at the Zoo, though the only other Chinese tragopan known, Cabot's or the buff-breasted (T. CABOTI), has been exhibited of late and been not uncommon in the bird trade. In captivity the Temminck's tragopan shows the same tendency to nest high up as the Indian crimson species ; the eggs are cream or buff colour closely speckled with brown.