Birds of Morni: Red Jungle Fowl

November 21, 2011

Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) belongs to the pheasant family and is native to the thick jungles of South Asia. The male can be over 2 feet in length and has a large red fleshy crest on the head and wattles hanging from the throat. Bright golden-bronze feathers extending from the neck to the lower back appear like a magnificient royal cape. The blackish tail feathers can be a foot in length and arch out impressively and shine with hints of purple, blue and green. The female is plain looking with a non-flashy plummage and no crest or wattles to avoid drawing attention of predators as she nurtures her eggs and chicks. The male’s loud challenging crowing during the breeding season is designed to scare off rivals and attract the mates. A spur on the lower leg comes handy in mating duels.The fowl feeds on insects, seeds and fruits in open tracts or clearing in the mornings and evenings.This colourful pheasant rarely flies and only to escape a predator or reach a high roost at sunset. The Red Junglefowl has a clear-cut pecking order with the dominant cock holding its tail and head high! The hens can dare to quarrel only at some distance from this Alpha-Male!!  The Red Jungle Fowl can live up to 10 years.

Red Jungle Fowl

Red Jungle Fowl

Red junglefowl have been mostly genetically interbred with domestic and feral chickens and the genotype has become ‘contaminated’. A sign of pure wild genotypes for the G. gallus Cock is an eclipse plumage from June to October. Thus, when the cock moults after the breeding season to replace the old feathers, the brightly coloured feathers are replaced with long black feathers across the middle of the back and fine red-orange ones on the rest of the body. The ‘eclipse’ plumage thus hides the distinctive male features (colourful attractive feathers) that set the males apart from the females.

Red Jungle Fowl, Bir Shikargarh WLS

 

 

Filed in: Birds

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An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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