Kalij or Silver Pheasant?

Today in Petchaburi Province of Thailand, we unwittingly waded into the taxonomic nightmare of Lophura nycthemera crawfurdi vs. Lophura leucomelanos crawfurdi.

Let’s start with a photo, taken at a blind referred to by our guide as Bo Lung Sin:

KK pheasant1
Kalij or Silver?

Our guide called this a Kalij Pheasant. This surprised us, as we had been studying ahead of time and expected the Kalij to be much darker. We consulted out 2002 edition of Robson, which indicated that this should be the crawfurdi ssp. of the Silver Pheasant.

“No Silver Pheasant in Kaeng Krachan,” said our guide. He pointed out the plates in the Birds of Thailand (Lekhakhun):

Birds of Thailand
The book our guide was using, published in 2013. Nice plates, but limited english.
Note that crawfurdi is denoted as a ssp of L. nycthemra on the plate. Yet it is shown as number 19, which refers to Kalij on the opposite page.

We looked at his book, and we figured that it simply contained an error, as it refers Kalij on the plate (#19) but lists the scientific name of the Silver (L.n.). So we thought we had this pegged as a Silver, until I attempted to enter this into eBird, which gives only Kalij as a possibility in this region! Now what?

Further searching revealed that there is still some debate about the where the crawfurdi ssp. belongs, with some authors putting them under Silver and others under Kalij. This site for Thai National Parks is fun; it states that Kalij is found in Kaeng Krachan, but Silver is not – ok, good; yet it then states that Kalij has grey legs (!) That doesn’t jive with what we saw; and then, as if to prove my point, they include a photo of an individual from Kaeng Krachan with red legs!

Since I use eBird, I’m going with Kalij for now, but I plan to query them on this in order to be certain that they agree that this red-legged bird is being categorized correctly. It seems that the majority opinion I can find so far would indicate Kalij. But I’m open to being corrected!

2 responses to “Kalij or Silver Pheasant?”

  1. Beautiful photos. I was introduce to the bird watching back in 2012 and now I am hook:)


  2. arandomstranger Avatar

    Hi! So I came across this article as I was also still learning about birds (not an expert), I know this is an old story but I thought I’d share my two cents. This crawfudi subspecies is indeed a really interesting case. At first glance, it does look like a typical Silver Pheasant but the more you look up any information about it you’ll be like “oh, wait”. 🙂

    So have you come to any update on this? I’d personally also categorize this as Kalij instead. Why? Because it seems like many subspecies of Khalij have some white streaks on the sides of their chest while in Silver, the chest is always all-black. Also it seems to me that Khalij appears to have much stockier, shorter tail while Silver has longer tail – not sure if it’s consistent in all subspecies though.


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