White Crested Kalj Pheasant

Lophura leucomelana hamiltoni

The White Crested Kalij is one of nine subspecies of Kalij Pheasant and in turn the Kalij is one of nine species in the largest genera of pheasants, Lophura. Lophura includes the Silvers, Firebacks and Swinhoes among others. The White Crested Kalij inhabits woodland in the Western Himalayas, in the wild, as well as parts of Western Nepal. They are endemic to both moist tropical areas and dry teperate ones in a medium elevation of up to around 3,300 metres.

The Kalij are medium sized Pheasants with mature cocks being up to about 1.25 kgs and hens around a quarter of a kilo less. Although they are not among the most colourful of pheasants they are pretty. The cock has a long, fine and rather floppy crest of white and off white. The head and neck are black with a purplish sheen and the shoulders and back continue this colouration but the feathers in these areas are edged in white and also have a white shaft, the back and rump are similar but the white edging becomes broader towards the tail. The breast feathers have a base of grey graduating to white and are particularly long and narrow. He has a black gently curved tail, and his dark brown eyes are surrounded by red face wattles. The beak and legs are pale grey. The hen has medium brown plumage with a white shaft and border. Like the cock she has a crest, this is horizontal and stiffer than that of the male. She also shares the same skin colouring as the cock on her face and legs.

In captivity the birds are quite adaptable and hardy. They are omnivirous animals eating a large variety of foods. Although they will eat grass they are not huge grazers and will allow plants to grow "reasonably" unscathed as long as they are fairly well established before the introduction of the pheasants into the aviary. We've only kept these birds for a few years now but we've not yet seen any aggression in them. So far so good. I will keep you updated in this respect as our bird numbers increase.

The Kalij hen will start laying (in the UK) around mid April. She will lay approximately 8 or 9 eggs in a clutch and incubation takes 22 - 23 days.

All in all the White Crested Kalij is definitely worth considering as an aviary bird. They are a joy to watch and have caused no problems with noise or destructive behaviour, in any way. They are easy to rear and to accommodate needing no special treatment or molly coddling. Just pure delight!

White Crested Kalij Pheasant hen pair White Crested Kalij Pheasants
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