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Pheasant

bird, female, monal, species, met, male and ranges

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PHEASANT birds belong to the family PM sianidm. Gold and silver pheasants aro inhabit ants of China ; but the golden pheasant, accord ing to M. Temminck, inhabits not only China and Japan, but the northern parts of Greece, as also Georgia and the Caucasus, and has been met with even in the province of Orenburg. M. Degland tells us that AI. Gamba, French consul at Tiflis, met with this gorgeous bird in numerous flocks ou the spurs of the Caucasus which extend towards the Caspian Sea, and that now it has gone wild and multiplied in some of the forests of Germany. The golden pheasants inhabit no part of the plains of India, nor does any kind of pheasant inhabit south of the Himalaya in British India.

Dr. Adams, close to the melting snow, came on several flocks of the great snow-pheasant, known to the Kashmiri by the names Gor-ka-gu and Ku-buk-deri. It is also called Lepia and Jer monal in other districts westward. This species seems to frequent the high ranges of Afghanistan, and suitable situations all over the great I limalayais chain. There are three allied species, one of which is possibly only a local variety (Tetraogallus Tibetanus) ; the other two aro decidedly distinct. One of the latter is said to frequent the Ladakh mountains ; it has a band on the front of the neck like the chukor. He saw a flock of snow-phea sants together with quoir month or snow-partridge (Lerva nivicola). This handsome bird is not uncommon in certain localities and at high altitudes ou Kashmir, Ladakh, and northwards. The snow-partridge breeds near the limits of vegetation, and lays from six to seven eggs.

The black-headed or Hasting's pheasant (Ceri ornis melanocephala, Gray) is found on the wooded slopes of the Pir Panjal. It is one of the gayest, and at the same time largest of its family. From the brilliancy of its plumage, it has been designated by Europeans the argus pheasant ; but the true argus is a native of Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsula. The most common local name for this species, beside» the above, is Jewar. In some parts of the Kashmir ranges, the male is called Sonalu, and the female Selalee. Its close

ally, the Sikkim horned pheasant (C. satyrs), has not been met with on the North-Western I!imalava. Oft, in the stillness of an alpine solitude, at his tent door, by the cheerful log-fire, Adams listened to the well-known Wa, wa, aw, of this bird. The loud wailing cry of the jewar sounds mournfully along the valleys, and is more often heard at-dusk and break of day than at any other time.

Foremost of all the various species of pheasants stands the Itnpeyan, or monal (Lophophorus impeyanus). This splendid bird, once so abundant in the Western Himalaya, is now, comparatively speaking, restricted to certain localities in the wooded slopes of the higher ranges. Whole tracts of forests, once dazzling with the gorgeous forms of these birds, are now without a single specimen. It will, however, be long before it is extirpated, for its haunts are high up among the craggy rocks, where few ordinary sportsmen venture. The average weight of an adult male monal is nearly 6 lbs. ; that of the female, about 5 lbs. ; the young of the year, about 3 lbs. Its favourite haunts are in the deepest solitude of the forest, or among the bamboo and dense jungle which clothe the sides and bottoms of the valleys. It is found along the line of the Himalaya, from 6000 to 8000 or 10,000 feet, but is partial to localities. It is strictly alpine in its haunts, and prefers the cooler regions of the middle ranges to the forests bordering on the plains of India. They are bought chiefly to adorn ladies' bonnets. Its favourite food consists of acorns, earth-nuts, bulbs, wild strawberry, currants, etc. They may be met with in scattered flocks, singly, or in pairs. The female monal lays four to six eggs, very similar in colouring to those of the turkey. The young bird has the dark - brown plumage of the female until the autumnal moult. About Mussoori and Simla, Monal is the name ; to the eastward it is called Ratteah cowan and Monalee. The male is the Lont and the female the Ham of the Kashmirians, who adorn their mosques with the brilliant feathers of the male.

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