Temminck’s tragopan (Tragopan temminckii)

Also known as: crimson-bellied tragopan
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGalliformes
FamilyPhasianidae
GenusTragopan (1)
SizeMale size: 64 cm (2)
Female size: 58 cm (2)
Male weight: 1,362 - 1,447 g (2)
Female weight: 907 – 1,021 g (2)

Temminck’s tragopan is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The colourful Temminck’s tragopan (Tragopan temminckii) is considered by many to be the most beautiful pheasant in the world (3). Male Temminck’s tragopans are bright orange-crimson, spotted with pearl-grey dots below and black-bordered white dots above. Perhaps even more striking is the vivid pale-blue skin of the face and the bib-like wattle that hangs from the throat, typical of tragopan males, bearing a spectacular pattern of darker blue-violet markings down the centre, and conspicuous scarlet markings down each side (3) (4). The crown and neck are mostly black (3), and like other tragopan males, Temminck’s tragopan has two fleshy, horn-like projections above the eyes, and a very short bill (4). In contrast to the extravagant array of colours boasted by males, females have dull plumage mottled with black, brown and grey, which helps camouflage them in their forest habitat (4). Both male and female Temminck’s tragopans have short tails (3).

Temminck’s tragopan is wide-ranging across the eastern Himalayan mountains, being found in eastern India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar and Vietnam (1) (3). This species migrates vertically up and down the mountain slopes according to the seasons, spending the cold winters at lower altitudes, and moving to higher altitudes as the temperature rises during spring (3).

Temminck’s tragopan is found in evergreen and mixed forest, often where there is dense rhododendron and bamboo (2), between 3,000 and 12,000 feet (about 914 to 3,650 metres) above sea level (4).

These shy, elusive birds live singly or in pairs (4). Unlike most of its pheasant relatives, Temminck’stragopan prefers to nest in trees (4), although it spends most of the daytime on the ground scratching for flowers, leaves, grass stalks, ferns, mosses, berries, seeds and the occasional insect (2) (5).

The mating season of Temminck’s tragopan starts in March and lasts about a month or so. Courting males attempt to entice females to mate by inflating the large, brightly-coloured patch on the throat, erecting the two long fleshy horns above the eyes, fanning the tail and performing an impressive dancing display (5). New nests are usually built in trees just a few feet off the ground, but the abandoned nests of other species are also often taken over, and are lined by the female with leaves, twigs and feathers (2) (4) (5). Three to five eggs are laid per clutch from early May, and are incubated for 26 to 28 days by the female (2). Raised solely by the female (2), the young Temminck’s tragopans develop quickly and are able to fly just days after hatching (4). Nevertheless, the female remains with the chicks for about a month to six weeks, until they are able to feed themselves and are capable of climbing to safety in trees (5).

Temminck’s tragopan is becoming increasingly threatened as humans and their livestock invade and encroach upon its forests. Over-grazing and understorey cutting is destroying and degrading its habitat (2), while egg-collecting and hunting for its colourful feathers also pose a threat (5). Nevertheless, Temminck’s tragopan still has a large population and an extensive range (1), and although its numbers are believed to be declining, it is not considered globally threatened (3).

Fortunately, Temminck’s tragopan is recorded in over 30 protected areas in China, and in Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary in northeast India, where this magnificently adorned pheasant should remain safe for the foreseeable future (2).

For more information on Temminck’s tragopan see:

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

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Lee Richardson Zoo - Temminck’s Tragopan (August, 2006)
    http://www.garden-city.org/zoo/animalinfo/Birds/temmincks_tragopan.htm
  4. Birding in India and South Asia - Temminck’s Tragopan (August, 2006)
    http://www.birding.in/birds/Galliformes/temmincks_tragopan.htm
  5. The Pueblo Zoo (August, 2006)
    http://www.pueblozoo.org/archives/jul04/feature.htm