Friday, July 6, 2012

Blood Pheasant

Ithaginis cruentus
The Blood Pheasant has kind of a disturbing name, but it gets it from the red skin of its face and legs, and the red feathers on the chin, chest, and tail. They are small members of their family, and are the only species found within the genus Ithaginis, though there are a dozen recognized subspecies.

Blood Pheasants are found in the countries surrounding the Himalayas-- China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. They prefer to live in coniferous forests, and range at elevations of 10,000-15,000 feet during the breeding season, and slightly lower during the rest of the year.

These birds are not the best fliers, and they get around mostly by running on the ground. They even build their nests on the ground, constructing them under rocks and inside shrubs. These ground nests can be problematic, however, as sometimes the eggs must be moved or abandoned altogether if the parents feel there is too much risk. Broods can number over a dozen in size, and the young chicks are able to get up and follow mom around when they are only two days old. They will remain as a group until winter.

The species is very rarely found in captivity, and at present it does not appear that there are any in United States institutions. Blood Pheasants live in very remote regions in the wild, and so have been safe from many of the threats that endanger different pheasant species. However, the population does appear to be on the decline, though it is slow enough to list them as being of Least Concern.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Himalayas
Size : Length up to 17in (43cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Galliformes
Family : Phasianidae -- Genus : Ithaginis -- Species : I. cruentus

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