Pheasants are fascinating birds, known for their brilliant plumage and elaborate courtship displays. Whether it is a Khaly pheasant or red jungle fowl, the white peacock or the normal , each is a delight to behold. These beautiful birds also occupy an imprtant niche in nature’s great scheme.
Peafowls are the best known members of pheasant family and occupy a prominent place in the Indian lore. At one time these hills were home not only to the exquisite mors and mornis but to many other worthy members of the pheasant family. And even now one can see them .
At the red fort at Morni, the Haryana Wild Life Department has assembled a superb collection of these feathered monarchs: red jungle fowl, chir pheasant, khaly pheasant, chukor, bantam and domestic fowls. The fort has been converted into a restricted area under the Haryana Wild life Department and it is here that a painstaking experiment is under way, pheasant breeding1.
The mother pheasants are not great home-makers. A simple scrape in the ground is good enough for their egg-laying . So, the mongoose, snake, monkey, jungle cat and monitor lizard make such holes. The number of pheasants should increase at the rate of 100 per year. But this is not so and it speaks volume for the high mortality rate of pheasant chicks. But even when bred in captivity and protected from prowling carnivores, the chicks have plenty of dangers to face.
The family phasianidae includes pheasants, partridges and quails. For centuries they have been game birds that have provided entertainment and food to man. Their bill is a bit like the parrot’s; thick and short with the upper beak overhanging to lower one. They are not fussy eaters, seeds, tender shoots, grains, fruits and insects. They fly swiftly but only for a short distance.
The chikor prefers to rocky sides with grass and sparse bushes, and feed on grains, vegetables, leaves and grass. Another nature of this region is the chir pheasant. It stays nearer the plains than the chikor preferring altitudes of 1,500 to 2, 700 metres. The birds of breeding centre enjoy healthy diet of leaves, grass, grains, berries and poultry feed.
Reproduced from the Haryana State Gazetteer