Avicultural Forums


Species Accounts
Pheasants & Peafowl
Francolin & Partridge
Guineafowl & Turkey

Organizations / Clubs

GBWF on Facebook
Animal Wonders
Other Links

cline01 (1K)

Great Argus

(Argusianus argus)

Great Argus

Argusianus argus
Photo by Tim Matthews

Other Names: Argus Pheasant, Argus

Subspecies: There are living two subspecies, the Malaysian Great Argus (A. a. argus) can be found in Malaysia and Sumatra and the Bornean Great Argus (A. a. grayi) found on Borneo. A. a. bipunctatus is known only from a portion of a primary feather of uncertain origin. Believed to be extinct and was found on Tioman Island off the Malay Peninsula.

Habitat: Forests, from sea-level to 4,000 feet.

Description: One of the most unusual of all bird species, males are unmistakable with massive primary, secondary and tail feathers. The face is blue, the crown is black with a distinctive short crest. The upperparts are brown, finely mottled with buff; iridescent ocelli can be found on the wings and tail. The wings can continue to grow until the bird reaches its sixth year. A. a. grayi is slightly smaller than A. a. argus and can be distingiused by the burnt orange on the breast and neck and with more white spotting. Females are similar, but smaller than males; also lack the ornate tail and wings.

Status in Wild: Listed as a CITES II, vulnerable species, the primary threat to survival is habitat destruction. Believed to be in good numbers on the Malay Peninsula and on Borneo, but the Sumatran population is in rapid decline.

Interesting Facts: The long feathers of the wings and tails are used by Bornean cultures for ornamental head dresses.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Very rare in private aviculture.

Clutch Size: 3 to 4 eggs

Incubation Period: 25 days

Visitor Submitted Notes: The following information was provided by Clifton Nicholson Jr., who specializes in Argus and Peafowl.

The Argus is a tremendously calm and gentle bird. They have great personalities and are not difficult to keep or raise. They're large and need heat in the winter, therefore they're expensive to keep for us in the north. This is their biggest fault.
I have always raised peafowl. I like big birds. I've also always collected feathers. I remember the day that I would have been thrilled just to have had a single feather from an adult male Argus. And now I have 4 pairs, an extra female and 3 babies. I raised 3 young last year. I have kept and raised Malay Great Argus since 1984. My original pair came from Charlie Sivelle. I still have that original cock and he's still my best breeder.
Argus need, as do I feel all exotic birds, a large and varied diet. My Argus get greens, turkey pellets, meal worms, raw peanuts, raisins, apples and oranges. The Argus hens make excellent mothers. The drawback of this is that you only get one clutch of 2 eggs that way. But I do try to let the hen raise the last clutch and I don't let her lay more that 3 clutches. It's not good for to produce too many eggs in one season. If she does she may not lay again for a couple of years. The voice of experience. The chicks are raised in a brooder and fed chick starter and meal worms. I could not raise Argus chicks without meal worms. They grow fast and are very friendly. Most of my adults will eat peanuts out of my hand. A large aviary is helpful, but I have raised young from a pair kept in a "room" in the loft of a barn, heated. The "room" was about a ten foot square with one small window to the north. The male displayed as normal. The worst problem I had here was the dry air. Now my birds have large indoor and outdoor spaces. The indoor aviaries have lots of windows and are heated in the winter.
The fate of the Argus in the US does not seem very good. The population is very low. I would not venture a guess because there are people better qualified to do that than me. I do have one pair of Bornean Great Argus that could well be the only pair in the US. I would love to find someone with some so that we could make up pairs that would not be so closely related.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9 10

Photo Credits
(l to r): 1, Kim Wanders; 2, Matt Tuttle; 3, Myles Lamont; 4, Jan Harteman; 5-10, Peter Stubbs.

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.


Links related to this species. Please note, links will open in a new window.

Return to Pheasant & Peafowl

Google © 1997-2017 ~ Avicultural Forums ~ Pheasants & Peafowl ~ Grouse ~ Francolins & Partridge ~ Quail ~ Cracids ~ Guineafowl & Turkey ~ Megapodes ~ Waterfowl ~