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cline01 (1K)

Crestless Fireback Pheasant

(Lophura erythropthalma)

Other Names: Rufous-tailed Pheasant

Range: Malayan Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.

Subspecies: Two, the Malay (Lophura erythrophthalma erythrophthalma) and the Bornean (L. e. pyronota).

Habitat: Tropical forests.

Description: Similar in size and shape to other small Lophura species such as the Edwards and Salvadori's. The following descriptions are from Dr. Delacour's The Pheasants of the World 1977.

L. e. erythrophthalma, Male: Head crestless; face-wattles scarlet, large, the two upper lobes high and pointed in display; crown, throat, ear-coverts and neck purplish black; mantle, wings and sides of body purplish black finely vermiculated with silvery grey; middle back metallic dark purple with maroon fringes; tail of fourteen or sixteen cinnamon rectrices, the middle pair a little shorter than the second and third, rounded, short and straight, held slightly upwards and looking like that of a domestic hen; breast purplish black. Iris reddish brown; bill greenish white, blackish at base; legs bluish grey, with a strong spur. Young males assume the adult plumage at the age of four months. Female: Entirely black except for the brownish head and smoky chin and throat; the feathers are strongly glossed with steel blue in their exposed part except on the abdomen, thighs, and vent. Iris brown; bill black, pale at lower base; facial wattles scarlet; legs bluish grey, always with a sharp spur as in the male, but smaller. Hens erythrophthalma resemble cocks inornata, but are distinguished by the absence of iridescent blue fringes to the feathers, the heavier build and the dark bill.
L. e. pyronota, Male: Differs from erythrophthalma in having the neck and upper back light grey finely speckled with black, with white shaft-lines; sides of body and breast feathers lanceolate, purplish black with wide white shaft lines; the rump is dark maroon and the upper tail-coverts steel blue; retrices black at the base. Female: Similar to erythrophthalma, perhaps a little more metallic and larger, but usually indistinguishable.

Status in Wild: Not well known, but believed to be vulnerable due to extensive habitat loss.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Very rare.

Breeding Age: Second year.

Clutch Size: 3 to 6.

Incubation Period: 24 days.

Misc. Aviculture Notes: The outlook for this species in American aviculure is not very good. Only a handful of Keepers have been successful producing young in captivity and the stock has become extremely inbred.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

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Photo Credits
(l to r):1, Jeff Berger; 2, Mel Royal; 3-4, Myles Lamont.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Delacour, J. 1977. The Pheasants of the World. 2nd ed., World Pheasant Association and Spur Publications, Hindhead, U.K.
  • Delacour, J. 1978. Pheasants: Their Care and Breeding. T.F.H. Publishing, Neptune, NJ.
  • Howman, K. 1991. Pheasants of the World: Their Breeding and Management. Hancock House Publishers, Surrey, B.C. Canada.
  • Johnsgard, P.A. 1999. The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History. 2nd ed., Smithsonian Press, Washington D.C.
  • Madge, S., McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.


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