Temminick's Tragopan

Lisa G. Putman

Joined November 2007

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Artist's Description

He was running, flitting, and flying all over the inclosure, and I was having a hard time getting a nice shot. Then he began playing games with me, he woud fly up into the tree right beside where I was standing, too close for me to focus with my long lens. He would take a few steps back on the branch so I had a very narrow opportunity to get a shot, but then he was usually facing the other way. Most would give up, but my patience paid off as I finally memorized his rythmn of the game and knew when he would land on the branch. I kept my lens focused at that one spot, and finally a half an hour later, I got this close up portrait. I think he may have seen his reflection in my lens. The birds are so beautiful.

Canon EOS 30D DSLR; 70-200 mm f/2.8L; with 2 X EXT.; Focal length 270 mm; ISO Rating 800; 1/20 of a sec.; f/5.6; Spot metering; Handheld; No flash; Taken 5/8/2010 at 5:49 p.m.

The Temminck’s Tragopan, Tragopan temminckii is a medium-sized, approximately 64cm long, pheasant in the genus Tragopan. This colourful bird is considered by many to be the most beautiful pheasant in the world. Males are bright orange-crimson, spotted with pearl-grey dots below and black-bordered white dots above. Perhaps even more striking is the vivid pale-blue skin of the face and bib-like wattle that hangs from the throat, typical of tragopan males, bearing a spectacular pattern of darker blue-violet markings down the centre, and conspicuous scarlet markings down each side. The crown and neck are mostly black, and like other tragopan males, this species has two fleshy, horn-like projections above the eyes, and a very short bill. In contrast to the extravagant array of colours boasted by males, females have a dull plumage mottled with black, brown and grey, which helps camouflage them in their forest habitat. Both males and females have short tails.

Temminck’s tragopan is wide-ranging across the eastern Himalayan mountains, being found in eastern India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar and Vietnam. The species migrates vertically up and down the mountain slopes according to the seasons, spending the cold winters at lower altitudes, and moving to higher altitudes as the temperature rises during spring.

These shy, elusive birds live singly or in pairs. Unlike most of their pheasant relatives, Temminck’s tragopan prefers to nest in trees, although spends most of the daytime on the ground scratching for flowers, leaves, grass-stalks, ferns, mosses, berries, seeds and the occasional insect.

The mating season starts in March and lasts about a month or so. Courting males attempting to entice females to mate inflate the large, brightly-coloured patch on their throat, erect the two long fleshy horns above their eyes, fan their tail and perform an impressive dancing display. New nests are usually built in trees just a few feet off the ground, but the abandoned nests of other species are also often taken over, which the female then lines with leaves, twigs and feathers. Three to five eggs are laid per clutch from early May and incubated for 26 to 28 days by the female. Raised solely by the hen, the chicks develop quickly and are able to fly just days after hatching. Nevertheless, the female remains with her chicks for about a month to six weeks, until they are able to feed themselves and are capable of climbing to safety in trees .

I would love to see this pheasant during it’s courtship display. You can see a short video of it Here

Artwork Comments

  • Ellen Cotton
  • TheRoacH
  • Rose Gallik
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