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Kalij Pheasant
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Kalij Pheasant

The Kalij Pheasant, Lophura leucomelanos, is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills, from the Northern India to western Thailand. Males are rather variable depending on the subspecies involved, but all have an at least partially glossy bluish-black plumage, while females are overall brownish. Both sexes have a bare red face and greyish legs (the latter separating it from the red-legged Silver Pheasant).[1] It is generally common and widespread, though three of its eastern subspecies (oatesi, lineata and crawfurdi) are considered threatened and moffitti is virtually unknown in the wild.[1]

The name is also spelt Kaleege in old texts, such as Game Birds of India and Asia by Frank Finn,[2] though no longer in his Indian Sporting Birds.[3] It has also been introduced to Hawaii (though somewhat rare), where it is considered an invasive species because it consumes and disperses seeds of invasive plant species.



The Kalij Pheasant is closely related to the Silver Pheasant and the two are known to hybridize.[4] The placement of the taxa lineata and crawfurdi has been a matter of dispute, with some treating them as subspecies of the Kalij Pheasant[1] and others as subspecies of the Silver Pheasant.[5] They have greyish legs as in the Kalij Pheasant, but their plumage is closer to that of some subspecies of the Silver Pheasant. Additionally, as the Silver Pheasant, lineata and crawfurdi are found east of the Irrawaddy River, a major zoogeographic barrier, while all other subspecies of the Kalij Pheasant are found west of the river (oatesi, a subspecies of the Kalij Pheasant, has sometimes been reported as occurring east of that river,[1] but this is incorrect[6]). Based on mtDNA, it was recently confirmed that lineata and crawfurdi should be regarded as subspecies of the Kalij Pheasant.[7]


There are nine recognized subspecies of the Kalij Pheasant. In taxonomic order:

  • L. l. hamiltoni White-crested Kalij Pheasant western Himalayas
  • L. l. leucomelanos nominate forests of Nepal
  • L. l. melanota Black-backed Kalij Pheasant Sikkim and western Bhutan
  • L. l. moffitti Black Kalij Pheasant central Myanmar
  • L. l. lathami Horsfield's Pheasant eastern Bhutan and northern India to Myanmar
  • L. l. williamsi William's Kalij Pheasant western Myanmar
  • L. l. oatesi Oate's Kalij Pheasant southern Myanmar
  • L. l. crawfurdi Crawfurt's Pheasant southeastern Myanmar to peninsular Thailand
  • L. l. lineata Lineated Pheasant southern Myanmar to northwestern Thailand


Male L. leucomelanos lathami in Kaziranga National Park, India
Male L. leucomelanos lathami in Kaziranga National Park, India
Males have a total length of and females .[1] Very roughly, the subspecies can be divided into two main groups, with the first (subspecies hamiltoni, leucomelanos, melanota, moffitti and lathami) being found in the western and central part of the species' range, while the second (williamsi, oatesi, lineata and crawfurdi) is found in the eastern part. In the males of the first group most of plumage is glossy blue-black, though with white to the rump or underparts in most subspecies, and in hamiltoni, the westernmost subspecies, the crest is white (all other have a blue-black crest). In the second group, the underparts and crest are glossy blue-black, but the tail and upperparts are white (or very pale grey) with most feathers densely vermiculated with black.[1]

Females are brownish. In some subspecies the underparts are distinctly marked in whitish and black, while in others most feathers are pale-edged, resulting in a scaly appearance.[1]


External links

br:Fazan kalij ca:Lophura leucomelanos de:Kalifasan es:Lophura leucomelanos eo:Kalifazano fr:Faisan leucom le it:Lophura leucomelanos hu: rd gf c n nl:Nepalfazant ja: pnb: ru: simple:White-crested Kalij pheasant sv:Kalijfasan th:

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