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Kalij Pheasant - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies L. l. hamiltonii, male
Photo © by dineshagg
Corbett National Park, India, 2 November 2005
Lophura leucomelanos


Subspecies L. l. hamiltonii, female
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Ranikhet, Alt. 6900 ft above MSL, Uttarahand Himalayas, India, 5 April 2019

Male 63–74 cm (24¾-29 in); female 50–60 cm (19¾-23½ in) Male (Nominate)

  • Red eyering
  • Bluish-black upperparts plumage
  • White speckles from lower back to uppertail-coverts
  • Whitish breast
  • Blackish-brown wings and vent
  • Tail: Bluish-black above and black underneath


  • Reddish-brown overall plumage
  • Feathers have white edges, giving a scalloped appearance
  • Black tail has chestnut central retrices

Juvenile: dark brown overall plumage, with white spots on the underparts


The western Himalayan variety have white crowns compared to the black crowns of the eastern species.


North India to South-east Asia.

Hawaii (Introduced)

Subspecies L. l. hamiltonii, juvenile male
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Ranikhet, Alt. 6800 ft., Uttarakhand Himalayas, India, 3 April 2018



There are 9 subspecies[1]:

  • L. l. hamiltonii - Western Himalayas (Indus River to western Nepal)
  • L. l. leucomelanos - Subtropical pine, sal, and moist temperate forests of Nepal
  • L. l. melanota - Sikkim and western Bhutan
  • L. l. moffitti - Range unknown; possibly central Bhutan
  • L. l. lathami - East Bhutan and northern India to Myanmar
  • L. l. williamsi - West Myanmar (east to Irrawaddy River)
  • L. l. oatesi - South Myanmar (Arakan Yoma Mountains)
  • L. l. lineata - South Myanmar (east of Irrawaddy River) to north-western Thailand
  • L. l. crawfurdii - South-East Myanmar (Tenasserim) and peninsula Thailand


The are to be found in a variety of habitat types, from evergreen to deciduous forests, thickets and shrubs; also areas under cultivation. Heights range from around sea level to over 2000 metres.

Subspecies crawfurdii
Photo © by robby thai
Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand, 23 April 2016



Omnivorous. Their varied diet consists of bamboo seeds, acorns, figs, forest yams, ripe fruit, small snakes and termites. They forage early morning and late afternoons in fields and on tracks, scratching around also for roots and tubers. Usually in groups numbering up to 20 birds.


The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground, often near water and sometimes lined with leaves. The female lays a clutch of 6-9 creamy-white to reddish-buff eggs. Larger clutch is usually produced by more than one female. She incubates alone for 20-22 days.


Common call is a loud whistling chuckle heard mainly at dawn and dusk. Other whistling squeals when flushed.


Believed to be sedentary, although some seasonal movement likely in northern part of range and for food and water.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Bouglouan, N. (2013) Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos). In Oiseaux-birds
  3. McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53489 on 6 February 2020).
  4. Pratt, H.D., Bruner, P., and Berrett, D.G. (1987) A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press.
  5. Pyle, R.L., and P. Pyle. 2017. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status. B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 2 (1 January 2017) http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph/
  6. Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. (2012) Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Vols. 1 and 2. Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution. Michigan State University & Lynx Edicions, Washington. D.C., Michigan & Barcelona.

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