Birds – Peacock-pheasants

With the so-called Peacock-Pheasants (Polyplectron) we enter upon a very different type, which in a way connects the last with the Argus and other Pheasants. Of medium or small size, they have a relatively large, full, flat, and rounded tail composed of twenty-four feathers, each of which is ornamented with one or two large, metallic, eye-shaped spots, while the sides of the face are nearly or quite naked, and the tarsi armed with two, or three, or exceptionally four, long spurs; the sexes are quite different in size and coloration. The half-dozen species range from the Indo-Chinese countries through the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra and Borneo to the Philippines, the best-known being the Gray Peacock-Pheasant (P. chinquis) of the eastern Himalayas and Indo-Burmese countries, the male of which is mainly brown above, dotted with whitish, many of the feathers with a large, round, eye-shaped spot of metallic green and violet, changing to blue and purple; the eye-spots on the tail-feathers are in pairs, one on each side of the shaft, and in color are green or purple according to the way they are viewed; in the female the upper parts are brown mottled with paler, and the eye-spots mostly black. These birds are found mostly in the lower ranges of hills but little above sea-level, where they frequent especially thick bamboo jungle, being very shy and extremely difficult of approach. Their call notes resemble the syllables ha-ha-ha-ha, which they utter especially in early morning and evening, when they come out to feed. They are especially fond of the fruits of a certain tree, but they also feed on insects, worms, and snails. These birds are considered delicious eating, being taken by the natives in snares which are baited with their favorite berries. Quite closely related is the Malayan Peacock-Pheasant (P. bicalcaratum) of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra.