Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos)


French: Faisan leucomèle German: Kalifasan Spanish: Faisán kálij

Phasianus leucomelanos


, 1790,



Closely related to L. nycthemera; the two were formerly placed together in genus Gennaeus, but genetic study found no evidence that Lophura as currently constituted is polyphyletic#R. Present species apparently hybridizes with L. nycthemera at several localities E of R Irrawaddy (as well as on Victoria I, in SW Argentina, where both introduced very locally#R). A separate molecular study indicated that these are two distinct species and that races lineata and crawfurdii, which have been considered part of L. nycthemera#R, are far better placed with present species; latter appears to comprise at least three clades of subspecies (namely crawfurdii and lineata; leucomelanos; moffitti, hamiltonii and some others), but other taxa have yet to be sampled#R. Specific status has been proposed for races lathami and lineata; conversely, several races perhaps of dubious validity. Proposed race horsfieldii (locality uncertain) is a synonym of lathami. Nine subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. l. hamiltonii (J. E. Gray, 1829) – W Himalayas from N Pakistan (R Indus) E to W Nepal.
  • L. l. leucomelanos (Latham, 1790) – C & EC Nepal.
  • L. l. melanota (T. Hutton, 1848) – extreme E Nepal (Mai Valley), N India (Sikkim) and W Bhutan (E to R Sankosh).
  • L. l. moffitti (Hachisuka, 1938) – only reliable record in wild from C Bhutan (race described from captive birds).
  • L. l. lathami (J. E. Gray, 1829) – E Bhutan and E Bangladesh E to NE India (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh), S China (extreme SE Tibet and NW Yunnan) and N Myanmar (probably E to R Irrawaddy).
  • L. l. williamsi (Oates, 1898) – W Myanmar E to R Irrawaddy; possibly also in NE India (E Manipur).
  • L. l. oatesi (Ogilvie-Grant, 1893) – Arakan Yoma in SW Myanmar (E of R Irrawaddy).
  • L. l. lineata (Vigors, 1831) – S Myanmar (E of R Irrawaddy) S to W Thailand.
  • L. l. crawfurdii (J. E. Gray, 1829) – SE Myanmar (Tenasserim) and peninsular Thailand.
  • Introduced (leucomelanos) to Hawaiian Is.

    Descriptive notes

    Male 63–74 cm (tail 21–35 cm), 795–1150 g; female 50–60 cm (tail 19–23·5 cm), 564–1025 g. Male is amongst the most variable... read more


    Can be virtually silent, especially in more disturbed areas, but at dawn and dusk gives loud... read more


    Occurs in variety of habitats, from evergreen and deciduous forests (including those dominated by... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Diet consists of items as diverse as bamboo seeds and small snakes, but especially termites, figs, forest yams and bamboo seeds... read more


    Considerable variation with race, usually including Apr and May: hamiltoni Mar–Jun; leucomelanos Apr–Jun;... read more


    Few data. Believed to be sedentary, although some seasonal movement likely in N of range and in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: hamiltoni/leucomelanos/melanota/lathami/williamsi safe; moffiti... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 10 December 2019).