Monal Bird

The Himalayan Monal, Lophophorus impejanus, is a pheasant of the Phasianidae family. It is also known as the Impeyan Monal, Impeyan Pheasant, and Danphe. It is the national bird of Nepal and the state bird of Uttarakhand, where it is known as the Danfe.

The Himalayan monal is a big pheasant native to the Himalayas. The males and females of this species have very diverse appearances. Male Himalayan monals have brilliant and vibrant blue, green, purple, and red feathers. The underside of their tail has a white patch of feathers, but the rest of their underside is black. On top of their heads, males have a crest (many feathers). Blue circles of skin circle the eyes of both male and female members of the species. Females and young birds (chicks) have a brown look overall. On some portions of their feathers, white and black stripes can be seen. The ladies' throats are white.

Male chicks resemble female chicks until they reach a year of age when they begin to become more colourful. Previously, you could tell the young males and females differently by their bigger size and black feathers on the throat instead of white feathers.


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Distribution and Habitat

The Himalayan monal is a high-altitude species that can be found across the Himalayas, from Afghanistan through Bhutan, India, and Tibet. During the summer, these pheasants browse on grassy areas, but during the colder winter months, they seek cover in forested places. Himalayan monals are considered endangered in some locations. Himalayan monal pheasant sound is so pleasing to hear. 


Diet

Himalayan monals dig for food items such as roots, insects, and seeds using their strong beak and claws, leaving a characteristic pattern in the dirt where they have been foraging. Monals in the wild eat a range of seeds, buds, shoots, roots, and small mammals. They have long, curved beaks and strong legs that allow them to dig into the rough soil of the highlands to find seeds, tubers, shoots, berries, and insects. On hillsides, this mode of foraging leaves visible regions churned over soil up to 25 cm deep.


Life Cycle

Himalayan monals interact via a range of calls, and the male is highly loud throughout the day during the early breeding season in order to attract a partner. Females make a tiny nest on the ground and lay 3–5 eggs, incubating them for 27 days. For the six months, it takes for the chicks to become self-sufficient, the male stays close by for protection and to assist rear them. 

Open, coniferous, or mixed forests with rhododendron and bamboo are preferred. The Himalayan monal is a high-altitude bird that lives at elevations ranging from 2000 to 4500 metres above sea level. They go above the tree line in the summer to explore the grassy hills. During the winter, they can be found at lower elevations. Himalayan monals have a piercing whistle that has been compared to that of a curlew.


Female Himalayan Monal Pheasant

Females of the species have less colourful feathers than males, although they are still fairly remarkable. They have a white throat and a small crest. The upper sections of the hens' feathers are a speckled brownish-black. White feathers and a layer with a black and copper splotched look make up the tail feathers. The females, like the males, have a distinctive blue patch over their eyes.


Male Himalayan Monal Pheasant

Because of the iridescent metallic-coloured plumage on the adult male bird's neck and wings, the Himalayan Monal is also known as the "nine-coloured bird." When in flight, the bird, which has a white back and black underparts, reveals a large white patch on its rump. The male bird's tail feathers are a uniform metallic reddish-brown colour, with a darker hue at the tips. The species is distinguished by a prominent blue patch around the eyes.


Reproduction and Breeding

The Himalayan monal pheasant's breeding season runs from April to June. The majority of breeding occurs at higher elevations, where the monals are most active during this season. Throughout the year, the male will make contact calls in the morning, but during certain months, his vocalisations occur throughout the day. Mating occurs shortly after a female notices the male's presentation. She will next construct an unlined nest out of mud or branches scraped from the bushes or a hillside. 

The male does not help in child-rearing, though he may stay close by to protect the female and her offspring from predators. The young are born precocial, capable of taking care of themselves, and their strongest protection is disguise. Their feathers are light brown on top and dingy white on the bottom. When the chicks reach the age of three months, they have lost the majority of their feathers and are able to forage for food on their own. They are entirely independent by the time they are six months old and must find their own territory and partners.


Behaviour

The Himalayan monal pheasant can be found up to 4000 feet in the Himalayas. It has more seasonal movements than other pheasants in the area, descending to 2000 feet in the winter. It spends the majority of its time foraging for food. They are outstanding diggers, digging up to 10 inches into the ground with their long, curved beak. Males are more competitive and aggressive than females, therefore these pheasants are usually seen in pairs or small groups with established home ranges. Within a half-mile radius, four to six pairs can be found. This pheasant is highly communicative, displaying both body language and vocalisations. Their wide spectrum of cries allows them to distinguish between contentment, aggression, alarm, and mate-seeking. The males make elaborate displays that include bobbing their crests and fanning their tail feathers.


Conservation

The Himalayan monal pheasant, like many other creatures in Asian forests, faces the greatest threat of extinction from habitat degradation. Over the last few years, shooting males for their crest of head feathers has become more common, and shooting these birds for sustenance has continued to reduce wild numbers. Despite the fact that this bird is still prevalent in some locations, it is unable to adapt to changing conditions. It has special habitat needs that prohibit it from expanding its range. The Sacramento Zoo educates visitors of all ages about the need of preserving entire habitats and ecosystems in order to safeguard as many species as possible. Each animal interacts with the others and plays a vital function in the ecosystem. The Himalayan monal is housed in our Red Panda Forest, which showcases several species living together and discusses their functions in the ecosystem.

Due to its broad distribution, this species does not approach the Vulnerable levels under the range size criterion. Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be declining, the rate of decline is not thought to be fast enough to reach the Vulnerable criteria under the population trend criterion. Although the population size has not been measured, it is unlikely to approach the Vulnerable levels under the population size criterion. As a result, the species is classified as Least Concern.


Amazing Facts of Monal Pheasant

  1. The pheasant family includes these birds.

  2. Nepal's national bird is the Himalayan monal.

  3. This bird can be found much above the timberline during the summer months.

  4. Himalayan monal pheasant sound is so beautiful. 


Conclusion

The Himalayan Monal, a brightly coloured bird, is Nepal's national bird, known as Danfe. These birds are also known as the Impeyan Monal, after Lady Mary Impey, who was the first person to keep them in captivity. The Himalayan Monal belongs to the pheasant family. They range in length from 63 to 72 centimetres and weigh between two and three kg. Males feature magnificent metallic green, purple, red, and blue colours. The head is bright green, with blue-ringed eyes and a reddish-brown neck. Males have a variable reddish copper back and sides of the neck, as well as a noticeable white back and rump when in flight. They have a spoon-shaped head crest made of shiny green feathers. Their crest is long, like that of a peacock. Females have a duller appearance than males, yet they are nonetheless appealing. 

Their feathers are mostly dark brown, with a vivid blue circle around their eyes. They have a rump patch and a white throat. They have a crest that is shorter and has regular brown feathers. Female monals are thought to be friendlier than male monals. These monals are found in mountainous areas. They spend the summer in the grass, rock-covered meadows, but the winters are spent in mixed forests with a lot of rhododendrons and bamboo. They can withstand cold temperatures well, but as birds from cool mountain woods, they require plenty of protection and shade from the scorching summer sun. They can't survive in high temperatures.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Where is Himalayan Monal Found?

Ans: The natural range of the Himalayan monal ranges from Afghanistan and Pakistan through India, Nepal, southern Tibet, and Bhutan. It's most widespread in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but it's also been seen in Kaghan, the Palas Valley, and Azad Kashmir.

2. What Do Himalayan Monal Eat?

Ans:  Monals in the wild eat a range of seeds, buds, shoots, roots, and small mammals. They have long, curved beaks and strong legs that allow them to dig into the rough soil of the highlands to find seeds, tubers, shoots, berries, and insects. On hillsides, this mode of foraging leaves visible regions churned over soil up to 25 cm deep.

3. Is Himalayan Monal Endangered?

Ans: Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, India (states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh), and even Myanmar are home to these birds. Due to many anthropological circumstances, the bird is nearly extinct in Afghanistan, and its numbers are progressively declining in other locations. As a result, they were added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2016), however only as a species of ‘Least Concern' (LC).