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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 EDT

Great Argus

The Great Argus (Argusianus argus) is a species of pheasant found in the jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Malay Peninsula in southeast Asia. Due to habitat loss and hunting in some areas, the Great Argus is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES. The scientific name of the Great Argus was given by Carolus Linnaeus in reference to the many eyes-like pattern on its wings. Argus is a hundred-eyed giant in Greek mythology.

The Great Argus is brown in color with a small blue head and neck, reddish-brown upper breast. It has black hair-like feathers on the crown and nape, and reddish legs. The male is one of the largest of the pheasant family and grows up to 78 inches in length. The tail feathers are long. The male’s most spectacular features are its huge, broad and greatly elongated secondary wing feathers decorated with large eye-like spots called ocelli. The female is smaller and duller than male, with shorter tails and less ocelli. Young males attain adult plumage in their third year.

The Great Argus feeds on the forest floor in the early morning and evening. The hen only lays two eggs.

The Great Argus is a monogamous species, despite mating displays similar to polygamous birds. The male clears an open spot in the forest and prepares a dancing ground. He announces himself with loud calls to attract females, then he dances before her with his wings spread into two enormous fans, revealing hundreds of “eyes” while his real eyes are hidden behind it, staring at her.

The Great Argus is a Near Threatened species according to the IUCN Red List.

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Great Argus