Monday, July 25, 2011

Color Pattern of the Red Jungle Fowl

This aspect of the fowl has always held a particular fascination for me. As it turns out, the Malayoid did have a distinctive color pattern all it's own quite distinct from the sexually dichromatic "black breasted red" of the Red Jungle Fowl. More on this in my next post. Dichromatic simply refers to the fact that the hen is colored differently from the cock, a cryptic pattern as is commonly found in birds and pheasants in particular. It makes biological sense since the hen must nest and incubate her eggs on the ground where she is vulnerable to predation.

For some interesting video of the Red Jungle Fowl, check this ARKive site:

These birds belong to Wameng Chue of "Perfect Rooster Aviary" in northern California:

At this point it might be worthwhile to digress and touch on the fascinating tradition of the Hmong people of Vietnam and Laos in raising Jungle Fowl hybrids for use as decoys in the hunting of the Red Jungle Fowl.
This article by Kong Vang,, explains it very well.

If this proves difficult to read, go to Kong's home page and access the article from there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tail Feathers....

This will be a short post, but significant nonetheless. I have already discussed the feather appendages that don't exist in the Red Jungle Fowl and almost certainly belonged to the Malayoid; crest, beard and muffs, grouse-type shank feathering and wrap around vulture hocks. We've worked front to back and that leaves only one thing, the tail, or more specifically, the tail feathers. I don't think the actual fleshy tail or uropygium as it's called, the Pope's nose, would have differed greatly between the two parent species, just the feathers. The Red Jungle Fowl has seven pair of main tail feathers called rectrices with flat and fairly symmetrical vanes that aid in flight. This tail is laterally compressed thus:
Since Malayoid was a none flyer it is possible that the tail became modified to better serve a different purpose such as shedding rain water and enclosing the back end from where the vulture hocks leave off. Needless to say it was probably carried low. Even flighted Jungle Fowl will lower their tails in the rain.
 This bird which I've posted before has flat vaned rectrices like the Jungle Fowl, but I discovered in the Cochin Bantam, or Pekin as in is known in Great Britain, some that have rectrices that could not be distinguished from the surrounding curved contour feathers that fit so smoothly around the body. Now the Cochin is from China and probably a very ancient form having been "found" in Peking as well as in Shanghai. This is intriguing as a tail made up of contour feathers would make a very nice fit with the similarly curved vulture hocks above.
 If the abdomen or "fluff" as it is known by fanciers were reduced and the very full feathering, this type of tail feather would blend well with the hock feathers creating a smooth contour for a bird that never left the ground.

This contour tail does not appear to be an all or nothing trait. It varies by degrees from short rectrices in the American breeds derived in part from the Cochin, Rocks, Reds, Wyandottes and the like, to the completely morphed tail bun of the Pekin.