KALIJ PHEASANT (Lophura leucomelanos) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Kalij Pheasant male has a dark blue and black overall plumage with white vertical streaked feathers along the neck and breast. The lower back is streaked with white on black. There is a bare red patch around the eye. The short, down curved bill is light grey and the legs are pinkish grey. Females are mottled brown overall with black tail outer feathers, and their legs are also brown. They have a bare red patch around the eye. Both sexes have a small crest of feathers. Males are slightly longer than females at about 28 inches (70 cm.) long.
NAME: The name ‘pheasant’ is from ancient Greek and means the same. As for the Latin genus name ‘Lophura’, it refers to the crest of the bird, whereas ‘leucomelanos’ means ‘white-black’, in reference to the bird’s feather colors.
HABITAT: Forest with thick undergrowth, abandoned fields with new vegetation.
DIET: Omnivorous – seeds, insects, worms, roots, berries and grain. They use their strong feet to scratch the soil and dig with their bills to reach their food.
NESTING: Courtship rituals include quick wing flapping like partridges. The nest is a shallow depression on the ground in a well-hidden undergrowth area. Around seven eggs are laid. In Asia, pairs are usually monogamous, whereas in Hawaii, research has found some ‘cooperative breeding’ (see Audubon reference below).
DISTRIBUTION: This species of pheasant is native to Asia, notably around the Himalaya foothills, and has been successfully introduced to Hawaii in 1962 as a game bird. However those first 67 birds came from Texas and Michigan, not Asia.
CONSERVATION: The Kalij pheasant is common and not threatened. The bird population in Hawaii has rapidly increased to the point where it is considered invasive due to its diet. It feeds partly on weeds and spreads them.
NOTES: The Kalij pheasant is available to individuals who want to raise pheasants and/or poultry or posses an ‘ornamental’ bird (see reference below).
SIMILAR SPECIES: Although not similar to the Silver Pheasant, it is closely related to it and hybridizes with it. Many subspecies exist of both species.
The Kalij pheasant can be seen in forests of the Big Island in Hawaii, where it has now become common. It was introduced there in 1962 from Asia.
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