Blyth's Tragopan

Blyth’s tragopan (Tragopan blythii) or the grey-bellied tragopan is a pheasant that is a vulnerable species. The common name commemorates Edward Blyth (1810–1873), English zoologist and Curator of the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

The animal’s population is small and is believed to be decreasing at a rapid rate. Blyth’s tragopan is located in many different areas, including Bhutan through north-east India, north Myanmar to south-east Tibet, and also China. The total population is estimated to be about 2,500 to 9,999 birds. This estimate is a very small number compared to some of its relative birds. Tragopan blythii normally flocks to wooded areas as it prefers the undergrowth of evergreen oak and rhododendron forests, and other dark, quiet places. This bird has a higher elevation than most birds.

Blyth’s tragopan pheasant is the largest of the genus Tragopan. Like most pheasants, the male is brightly colored. It is recognized by its rusty red head, yellow facial skin, and that it is spotted with small white dots on its back called ocelli. A black band extends from the base of the bill to the crown coupled with another black band extending behind the eyes. Like the rest of the tragopans, males have two pale blue horns that become erect during matting. Its lappet, a decorated flap, hangs from the throat and is brightly colored. This lappet can be expanded and exposed during mating season as well. Females are not as brightly colored as the male tragopan, for they do not need the extravagant appearance to attract a male counterpart. Overall, they are dark brown with a mixture of black, buff and white mottling. Their simple and dull look is a protection mechanism from other animals, known as camouflage. It also allows the females to protect their young that are in the early stages of life.

The bird primarily moves up and down the slopes in search for food. It is, however, uncommon for this species to travel far, due to the change in climate from area to area. This is a result of the mild winters in their habitat, which are tolerable for longer periods of time. For the majority of the species, travel is only necessary in attempting to avoid the drying out of their vegetation. In this case, they may move down mountain sides for more comfortable living conditions and a readier food supply. There is little information or support on how the Blyth’s tragopan moves, but it is suggested that they travel together in groups of four to five, much like other species of tragopans.