Himalayan Monal

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Himalayan Monal
Himalayan Monal, male
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Phasianinae
Genus: Lophophorus
Species: L. impejanus
Binomial name
Lophophorus impejanus
(Latham, 1790)
Map showing range of the Himalayan Monal
Range of Lophophorus impejanus

The Himalayan Monal, Lophophorus impejanus, also known as the Impeyan Monal, Impeyan Pheasant, and Danphe, is a bird in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. The species was named as Phasianus impejanus by John Latham after Lady Mary Impey who first kept them in captivity.[2][a]

It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as the Danphe (or Danfe),[3][4] and is mentioned frequently in Nepali songs.[5] It is also the state bird of Uttarakhand, India.[6]

Description[change | change source]

Himalayan Monal, female

The Himalayan Monal is a relatively large-sized pheasant. The males of this species look quite different from the females of the species. The male Himalayan Monals have bright and colorful feathers of blue, green, purple, and red. They have a white patch of feathers underneath the base of their tail, but the rest of their underside is black. The males also have a crest (several feathers) on top of their heads. Both the male and female of the species have blue circles of skin around their eyes. The females and the young birds (chicks) have an overall brown appearance. Their feathers also have white and black strips on certain parts. The females have a white throat.[7]

The male chicks look like the females chicks until a little after a year when they begin to become more colorful. Before then you could tell the young male and females apart because of their larger size and black feathers, instead of white feathers, on the throat.[7]

Distribution and habitat[change | change source]

The bird's natural range extends from eastern Afghanistan through the Himalayas in Pakistan and India (states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh), Nepal, southern Tibet, Bhutan and southwestern China. There are also reports that the species is found in northwestern Burma. In Nepal it is still a relatively common bird.[5]

The Himalayan Monal is a high-altitude species, staying between 2,100 and 4,500 m (6,890 and 14,764 ft) above sea level. During the summer months, the Himalayan Monal goes above the tree line, walking on the slopes covered with grass, but during winter it is found in coniferous and mixed forests with a high proportion of rhododendrons and bamboo, where it gets protection from the weather. It tolerates snow and will dig through it to obtain food.[7]

Behavior[change | change source]

The Himalayan Monal feeds on roots, tubers, stems, seeds, acorns (fruits of the oak tree) and berries, but also of insects that are dug with their beak from the soil. The birds often go in single sex groups of three to four animals in search of food. In winter, they meet in larger groups in places where the weather is favorable.[5]

The Himalayan Monals begin nesting in May generally. The eggs of the birds have been observed anywhere from the end of April until the end of June. The female generally lays four to five eggs. The birds generally form pairs at this time.[7]

The nests are simple, shallow holes in the ground, often under the shelter of a bush, a rock, or in the hole of some large tree; they are made typically in forests having large trees.[8]

Conservation[change | change source]

In some areas, the species is threatened due to illegal hunting (poaching) and other human activities. In a study made in India, the local population responded negatively to human activities in a hydroelectric power project.[9] The male Monal was under hunting pressure in Himachal Pradesh, where the crest feathers were used to decorate men's hats, until 1982, when hunting was banned in the state.

In Pakistan the bird is most common in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province but it can also be found in Kaghan, Palas Valley,[10] and Azad Kashmir.[8] The pheasant is not considered endangered in the region and can be easily located. In some areas, the population density of the species is as high as five pairs per square mile. The main threat to the species is poaching, as the crest is valuable here, as well. It is thought to bring social status to the person that wears it, and is a symbol of authority.[8]

Gallery[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Latham wrote, in volume viii of his General History of Birds (1821): "...inhabits India, but not common, being brought from the hills in the northern parts of Hindustan to Calcutta, as a rarity. Lady Impey attempted, with great prospect of success, to bring some of them to England, but after living on board for two months they caught a disorder from the other poultry, and died; ... and I was informed that they are known in India by the name of Monaul..." [2]

References[change | change source]

  1. BirdLife International. 2012. Lophophorus impejanus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 11 June 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Beebe, William (1918). A monograph of the pheasants. London: Witherby & Co.. pp. 145. Available on line in Biodiversity Heritage Library
  3. "Danphe". Info-Nepal. Info-Nepal. http://chhayakhanal.com/animals-and-birds/danphe/. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  4. "Himalayan Monal - Lophophorus impejanus" (pdf). Sacramento Zoo Birds. Sacramento Zoo. December 2003. http://www.saczoo.org/document.doc?id=639. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Shrestha, Tej Kumar (2003). Wildlife of Nepal – A Study of Renewable Resources of Nepal Himalayas. Kathmandu: Tribhuvan University. pp. 321. ISBN 99933-59-02-5 .
  6. "Uttarakhand State Signs". uttaraguide.com. 2012. http://uttaraguide.com/statesigns.php. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Himalayan Monal". WhoZoo. http://whozoo.org/Intro2003/AprilStJ/AS_himalayanMonalfinal.html. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Himalayan Monal". Pheasants of Pakistan. Wildlife of Pakistan. http://www.wildlifeofpakistan.com/Himalayan_Monal.htm. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  9. Jolli, V. & M. K. Pandit. (2011). Influence of human disturbance on the abundance of Himalayan Pheasant (Aves, Galliformes) in the temperate forest of Western Himalaya, India. Vestnik Zoologii 45(6): e40­-e47. doi:10.2478/v10058-011-0035-0
  10. Raja, N.A; Davidson, P.; Bean, N.; Drijvers, R.; Showler, D.A.; Barker, C. (1999). "The birds of Palas, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan". Forktail 15: 77–85. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/28063134/The-birds-of-Palas-North-West-Frontier-Province-Pakistan. Retrieved 14 June 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]