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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Red junglefowl are the wild ancestors of all domestic poultry (3), although the rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored than its tame relative (4). The vibrant male has long, golden-orange to deep-red crown and neck feathers, and a dark metallic-green tail with a white tuft at the base. The underparts are a dull black while the upperparts are a combination of glossy blue-green, rich dark red, maroon-red, fiery orange, rufous and blackish brown (3). The colourful cock also has vivid scarlet-red facial skin, throat, two lappets and heavily dented fleshy crest (comb), and red or white ear patches on the sides of the head (3) (4) (5). The rather drab female is a dull brown-gold colour (6) with a partly naked, pale red face and throat (3). After the summer moult, from June to September, the male develops an 'eclipse plumage', in which the golden neck feathers (hackles) are replaced with dull black feathers, the long tail feathers are lost, and the comb reduces in size and becomes duller in colour (3) (4). With much hybridisation between pure and domestic stock, the standard criteria of pure wild junglefowl include the tail being carried horizontally in both sexes, the absence of a comb in the female, and dark or slate grey leg colour and an annual eclipse moult in the male (3) (7). There are five subspecies, which vary in the colour of the facial lappets, in the size of the combs, and in the length, colour and terminal end shape of the neck hackles of males during the breeding season (2) (8).
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Biology

The red junglefowl lives in small mixed flocks during the non-breeding season - summer, autumn and winter (3). These have a hierarchical social system in which there is a 'pecking order' for both males and females (4). In the spring, at the onset of the breeding season, each of the stronger cocks maintains a territory with three to five hens (3). Meanwhile, young cocks live isolated in twos and threes. Studies have shown that the offspring of top roosters are more likely to grow up to be leaders than are those of low-ranking males, and that hierarchy may have a genetic component. Experiments have shown that females have the ability to retain or eject sperm, and that they consistently retain the sperm of the one or two dominant roosters in the group and eject that of all others (9). Hens produce four to seven, typically four to six, eggs per clutch, which are incubated for 18 to 20 days by the female only (2) (4). At twelve weeks of age, the young are chased out of the social group by their mother, and go off to join another group or form their own (4). Red junglefowl forage on the ground for seeds, fruit and insects, using their feet to scratch away the leaf-litter in search of food (5).
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Distribution

Gallus gallus is native to Southern Asia, particularly the jungles of India. Gallus gallus spread all over the world when people domesticated the chicken. This account primarily discusses the wild species (Philips 1999, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Global Range: RESIDENT: southeastern Asia. INTRODUCED: established in wild state in Hawaii (Kauai, Oahu, and perhaps elsewhere), Puerto Rico (Isla Mona, and possibly Isla Culebra and among magotes of Puerto Rico proper), and elsewhere in the world.

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Unknown

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

Native to Southern and Southeast Asia (6), from India eastward and south through Indonesia, but the domestic form is found worldwide and hybridisation is widespread (8). Five subspecies are usually recognised: the Indian red junglefowl (G. g. murghi) occurs in north and northeast India, adjacent Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh; the Burmese red junglefowl (G. g. spadiceus) in southwest Yunnan (China) and adjacent east Arunachal Pradesh (India), Myanmar, Thailand (except East), Peninsular Malaysia and north Sumatra; the Tonkinese red junglefowl (G. g. jabouillei) in southeast Yunnan and Hainan (China) and north Vietnam; the Cochin-Chinese red junglefowl (G. g. gallus) in east Thailand through central and south Laos, and Cambodia to central and south Vietnam; and the Javan red junglefowl (G. g. bankiva) in south Sumatra, Java and Bali (2) (8) (11).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Gallus gallus' plumage is gold, red, brown, dark maroon, orange, with a bit of metallic green and gray. There are also some white and olive feathers. Two white patches, shaped like an ear, appear on either side of the head. Gallus gallus can be distinguish from other chickens not only by these white patches, but also by the grayish feet. The red junglefowl can measure up to 70 centimeters in length. They have a total of fourteen tail feathers. Gallus gallus rooster tails can be almost 28 centimeter in length.

 The red junglefowl rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored that its tame relative. During June to October, G. gallus moults into an eclipse plumage. An eclipse plumage is, for male, black long feather across the middle of his back and slender red-orange plumes on the rest of his body. For a female, an eclipse plumage cannot be distiguished, but she does moult. The female red junglefowl is leaner than tame hens. (North and Bell 1990, Ponnampalam 2000, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average mass: 2580.2 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 6.005 W.

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Size

Length: 71 cm

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Diagnostic Description

Ancestor of domestic chicken, from which wild birds may be difficult to distinguish.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Gallus gallus lives in thick secondary forest or lush belukar. In the morning or evening, the bird can be found in an open area by wide earthen tracts or clearing, where the red junglefowl finds food. Sometimes G. gallus can be seen in oil-palm estates. (Ponnampalam 2000)

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Comments: Forest undergrowth, second growth, scrub, cultivated land. In Hawaii: along roads, trails, and other open spaces when feeding; often rests or feeds casually in thickets at other times of day; roosts in tree (female with young on ground). Nests on ground or in trees (2-6+ m above ground) (Berger 1981).

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The red junglefowl occupies most tropical and subtropical habitats throughout its extensive range, including mangroves, scrubland and plantations, although it seems to prefer flat or gently sloping terrain, forest edges and secondary forest (2) (4). It is also found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Found from sea level up to around 2,500 metres (2).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Gallus gallus is an herbivore and insectivore. Red junglefowls eat corn, soybean, worms, grass, and different kinds of grains found on the ground. They cannot detect sweet tastes. They can detect salt, but most red junglefowl do not like it. (Damerow 1995, Limburg 1975, Ponnampalam 2000)

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite / blood sucker
adult of Cimex lectularius sucks the blood of Gallus gallus

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
fluke of Echinostoma revolutum endoparasitises small intestine of Gallus gallus

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
cyst of Toxocara cati endoparasitises body cavity of Gallus gallus

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General Ecology

Roosts singly, in pairs, or in family groups.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Feeding activity most intense in early morning and late afternoon (Berger 1981).

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
30.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 30 years (captivity) Observations: Chickens are considered a relatively short-lived and fast ageing species (Holmes et al. 2003). The maximum longevity in captivity of these birds, however, has been reported to be 30 years (http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords). This is not impossible considering the large number of animals kept in captivity, yet remains unproven. For comparative analyses the use of a more conservative value for maximum longevity, such as 15 or 20 years, is recommended. Domestic chicken reach sexual maturity before six months of age.
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Reproduction

The breeding season of the red junglfowl is spring and summer. The chicks will start their lives in the warmth of the summer sun. An egg is laid each day. For twenty-one days before hatching, the chick will develop inside of the egg. On the first day, the heart and blood vessels of the chick develop and start to work. At the end of the first day, the head starts to take shape. By the fourth day, all organs of the future chick are present. On the fifth day, external sex structure developed. By the thirteenth day, the skeleton begins to calcify using the calcium from the eggshell. From the time when the egg is laid until hatching, the chick feeds on the yolk that surrounds him. The yolk penetrate in the chick body by the umbilicus. On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell. This action can take anywhere from ten to twenty hours. (North and Bell 1990)

 By four to five weeks of age, the chicks are normally fully feathered. Their first adult wings' feather will take another four weeks to grow. When the chicks are twelve weeks old, the mother chases them out of the group. They will then go on to form their own group or join another. At five months old, the chicks reach sexual maturity. The females reach sexual maturity a little later than the males. (Limburg 1975)

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

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In Hawaii, breeds early February-late September; clutch size 4-9; incubation 3 weeks, by female; male helps tend chicks; female sexually mature in 4-5 months (Berger 1981).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallus domesticus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Gallus gallus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 84 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGACAGCCCGGAACTCTCTTAGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTACAATGTAATCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTCATAATCTTCTTTATAGTTATACCCATCATGATCGGTGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCGCTTATA---ATCGGTGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGCATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTCCTCCCTCCCTCCTTCCTTCTCCTACTAGCCTCATCTACCGTAGAAGCTGGGGCCGGCACAGGATGGACAGTTTACCCCCCTTTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGCGCATCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTTTCATTACACTTAGCAGGTGTTTCCTCCATTCTAGGAGCCATCAACTTTATCACTACCATCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTGTCACAATACCAAACACCCCTATTCGTATGATCCGTCCTCATTACTGCCATCCTACTACTCCTCTCCTTACCCGTCCTAGCAGCT---GGGATTACCATACTACTTACCGACCGCAACCTTAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCAGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTATACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGTCACCCCGAAGTTTACATCCTCATCCTCCCAGGATTTGGAATTATC---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTCCCA------------------------------------------------------------------CAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AAA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallus gallus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 119
Specimens with Barcodes: 164
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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