Himilayan Monal

The Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) also known as the Impeyan Monal or Impeyan Pheasant, is a species of bird found in the pheasant family Phasianidae. It is native to eastern Afghanistan through the Himalayas including Kashmir region of Northern Pakistan, parts of India, Nepal, southern Tibet and Bhutan. There may be an occurrence in Burma as well. Its habitat is upper temperate oak-conifer forests scattered with open grassy slopes, cliffs and alpine meadows. Their normal elevation range is between 7,800 and 14,700 feet. During the winter they may move lower in altitude; however, they do show tolerance to snow and have been observed digging through snow for roots, tubers and invertebrates.

The adult is about 27.5 inches in length. Males weigh between 4.3 and 5.25 pounds and females weigh between 3.9 and 4.75 pounds. Adult males possess a long crest, are feathered with multicolored plumage throughout their body, while the females, like in other pheasants, are dull in color with the upper parts covered with dark brownish-black feathers. Males have a long metallic green crest, changeable reddish copper on the back and sides of the neck and, a prominent white back and rump while in flight (birds of northwestern India lack this). Tail feathers of males are uniformly brown-red being darker towards the tips, where as the lower tail coverts of females are white, barred with black and rufous. The female has a prominent white patch in the fore neck and a white strip on the tail.

Seen in pairs during the breeding season (April to August), they form large coveys and involve in communal roosting during the winter. The population of this species in most of its range is threatened due to poaching and other factors. The male Monal has been under heavy hunting pressure for its crest feather, which was used for ornament hats of Himachal men, until 1982 when legal hunting was banned in the state.

The scientific name commemorates Lady Mary Impey, the wife of British chief justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey. It is the National bird of Nepal, and the state bird of Uttarakhand.

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Himilayan Monal

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