Himalayan Monal

Himalayan Monal

Impeyan monal, Impeyan pheasant, Danphe, Danfe

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Lophophorus impejanus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
10-12 yrs
WEIGHT
2150-2380 g
LENGTH
70 cm

The Himalayan monal is a large colorful pheasant native to Himalayan forests. The adult male has multicolored plumage throughout, while the female, as in other pheasants, is more subdued in color. Notable features in the male include a long, metallic green crest, coppery feathers on the back and neck, and a prominent white rump that is most visible when the bird is in flight. The tail feathers of the male are uniformly rufous, becoming darker towards the tips, whereas the lower tail coverts of females are white, barred with black and red. The female has a prominent white patch on the throat and a white stripe on the tail. The first-year male and the juvenile resemble the female, but the first-year male is larger and the juvenile is less distinctly marked.

Distribution

The native range of Himalayan monals extends from Afghanistan and Pakistan through the Himalayas in India, Nepal, southern Tibet, and Bhutan. In Pakistan, these birds are most common in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and have also been recorded in Kaghan, Palas Valley, and Azad Kashmir. They live in upper temperate oak-conifer forests interspersed with open grassy slopes, cliffs, and alpine meadows.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Himalayan monals are social birds that are often seen in pairs or small groups. In winter they usually congregate in large coveys and roost communally. These birds are active during the day and spend most of their time foraging. Monals are very good diggers using their curved bills to dig under the ground. They also tolerate snow and dig through it to obtain plant roots and invertebrate prey. Himalayan monals are very communicative and use a wide range of calls to express aggression, alarm, or when trying to attract the mate.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Himalayan monals are carnivores (insectivores) and herbivores (granivores, frugivores). They feed on various insects, seeds, tubers, roots, and berries.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
April-August
INCUBATION PERIOD
27 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
6 months
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
3-5 eggs

Himalayan monals are monogamous and form strong pair bonds during the breeding season which takes place from April through August. After the mating the female scrapes a nest in the ground and lays 3 to 5 eggs which she incubates for 27 days. During this time the male always remains near the nest for protection. The chicks are hatch fully developed (precocial) with eyes open and are covered in down. At 3 months of age, they are able to feed on their own and after 6 months the young are completely independent; they are ready to search their own territories and mates. Reproductive maturity is usually reached at 2 years of age.

Population

Population threats

In some areas, Himalayan monals are threatened due to poaching and other anthropogenic factors. In the western Himalayas, the local monal population suffers from human disturbance involving hydroelectric power development. These beautiful birds are also hunted for food and male monals are hunted for their crest feathers used in decorations.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Himalayan monal total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Himalayan monal is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as the danphe or danfe.
  • When foraging Himalayan monals dig up to 25 cm under the ground with their bill and create many dug-over areas in their territory.
  • Himalayan monals have a large crop in which they collect food for later consumption.
  • The crest of male Himalayan monals is very valuable among poachers. It is thought to bring status to its wearer and is a symbol of authority.

References

1. Himalayan Monal on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_monal
2. Himalayan Monal on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22679182/92806166

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