Crested partridge (Rollulus rouloul)

Also known as: Crested wood partridge, roulroul
Synonyms: Phasianus roulroul
Spanish: Perdiz Rulrul
GenusRollulus (1)
SizeSize: c. 26 cm (2)
Male weight: c. 232 g (2)
Female weight: c. 202 g (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix III of CITES in Malaysia (3).

The male of this rather plump partridge bears a spectacular maroon crest and sports a glossy black plumage, which shimmers with green, blue and purple iridescence (2) (4). Contrasting starkly with this lustrous dark plumage is the vivid red colouration of the legs, feet, base of the beak, and bare skin encircling the eyes, as well as a conspicuous white forehead patch at the base of the crest (4). The female is very different from the male, but equally distinctive, with an olive-green body, chestnut-brown wings, grey head and black bill (2) (4). Like the male, the female has vivid red legs and feet and a circle of red skin around the eyes (5).

The crested partridge ranges across Southeast Asia, from south Myanmar and south-west Thailand, through Peninsular Malaysia to the islands of Sumatra (Indonesia) and Borneo (2).

Found in broadleaved evergreen, dense primary forests and bamboo, mainly in lowland plains and foothills, but up to 1,550 metres in places (2) (6).

Crested partridges feed and nest on the ground, but roost in the trees at night (2) (5). These colourful birds can usually be seen in parties of five to fifteen individuals, foraging for food in the leaf-litter of the forest floor (4). There are reports of associations with wild pigs, with these birds feeding on discarded fragments of fruit that they would be unable to tackle whole. In addition to fruits, their diet includes seeds, large beetles, wood ants and small snails (2).

The breeding season for this forest-dwelling bird varies throughout its range, and in some countries, breeding can continue for most of the year (2) (5). The nest may simply be a depression in dry leaves (5) or a large domed structure constructed of leaves and twigs by either the male or female (7). The female lays a clutch of five to six eggs, which she incubates alone for 18 to 19 days (in captivity), although both parents subsequently care for the hatchlings (2) (7).

Once a widespread species, this forest-dwelling bird is threatened by the alarming rate of lowland deforestation throughout its range (2) (8). Fortunately, this resilient bird tolerates secondary, selectively-logged forest and remains locally common, even despite high hunting pressure in several areas (6) (8).

This colourful, forest-dwelling bird is reported from several protected areas in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia (2).

For more information on the crested partridge see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

Authenticated (24/11/2006) by Dr. John P. Carroll, Chair of the IUCN-SSC/BirdLife International/WPA Partridge, Quail and Francolins Specialist Group.

  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)