Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/269

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



different kinds of herbs in its crop. While feeding its movements are stately, and it holds its magnificent tail straight out.

Late in autumn and in winter they collect in small coveys, often perching on the trees,[1] probably to feed on the leaf-buds. They pair in the early spring, and at such time keep to parts of the forest where the underwood is very dense, and where they rear their young;[2] they lay five to seven eggs.

In winter the Tangutans shoot them sitting on the trees or snare them for the sake of the tail-feathers. The four centre ones are much worn by Chinese officials in their uniform caps; and are worth 2d. apiece here.

In early spring, as soon as they have paired, the male birds may be heard calling their mates. Their notes are harsh and discordant, and those of the hen birds equally so, as far as we could judge. We also heard them utter peculiar deep notes which reminded us a little of the cooing of doves, and when startled their cry was like that of the guinea-fowl.

During the breeding season they have no regular call, like that of the common pheasant or of black game. The cocks only call at irregular intervals, generally after sunrise, although sometimes before

  1. In spring and summer the long-eared pheasants keep exclusively on the ground, although during the night, as the native sportsmen declare, they roost on the trees: my companion and I, however, never saw one on a tree, although we took many walks in the evening and early morning in the woods.
  2. By the middle of May most of the hen birds were sitting on their nests.