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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.