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Overview

Brief Summary

Pheasants and rails live and nest primarily on the ground. In general, they are somewhat lumpy birds that can't fly far or high. Should they try, it is obvious how hard they need to work. When detecting danger, they prefer to hide in the bushes.
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Comprehensive Description

Phasianidae is a diverse group comprising over 50 genera and over 214 species. Phasianid galliforms are commonly known as grouse, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, francolins, and Old World quail. Phasianids are small to large, blunt-winged terrestrial birds. Some species are noted for elaborate courtship displays in which males strut about, displaying colorful plumage and wattles, sometimes accompanied by an expansive spreading of the tail feathers. Some members of this group are important game birds and others, like domestic chickens (derived from Gallus gallus), are bred and reared for human consumption.

  • Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1999. The Pheasants of the World Biology and Natural History. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Sibley, B., C. Monroe. 1993. A World Checklist of Birds. Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers Inc..
  • Sibley, C., J. Ahlquist. 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds, A Study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
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Distribution

Phasianids are distributed globally except for polar regions and some oceanic islands.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced , Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Introduced , Native ); neotropical (Introduced , Native ); australian (Introduced , Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

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Physical Description

Morphology

Phasianids are small to large, ranging from 500 g to 9.5 kg in weight. Phasianids have short, rounded wings. Tail length is variable by species, appearing almost tailless in some to up to one meter in others. Plumage coloration ranges from cryptic to dark to brightly -patterned. The legs are sturdy and one or more spurs may be present on the tarsus. Toes are short with blunt claws and the hallux is raised. Phasianids may have crests, or bare skin on the head or neck, or wattles. Physical characteristics may be sexually monomorphic or dimorphic depending on species. Some phasianid males are larger, more brightly colored, have longer tails or more elaborate ornamentation than females.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; sexes shaped differently; ornamentation

  • Campbell, B., E. Lack. 1985. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermilion: Buteo Books.
  • Dickson, J. 1992. The Wild Turkey: biology and management. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
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Ecology

Habitat

Phasianids inhabit a diversity of habitats including rainforests, scrub forests, deserts, woodlands, bamboo thickets, cultivated lands, alpine meadows, tundra and forest edges. Some species may be found up to 5000 m above sea level, sometimes more.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural

  • Johnsgard, P. 1983. The Grouse of the World. Lincoln, NE: Univeristy of Nebraska Press.
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Trophic Strategy

Food habits of phasianids are varied, consisting of a mixture of plant and animal material. Plant materials include: grains, seeds, roots, tubers, nuts, fruits, berries and foliage. Animal materials include: arthropods (Ephemerida, Orthoptera, Trichoptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera), mollusks, worms, lizards, and snakes.

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Insectivore ); herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore , Granivore ); omnivore

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Associations

Phasianids may serve an ecosystem role as seed dispersers or seed predators.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Mammalian predators of phasianids include: foxes, dogs, cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks, rodents, fishers, and mongooses. Avian predators include raptors and corvids. Reptilian predators are largely snakes.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Known predators

Phasianidae (partridge, peafowl, babbler) is prey of:
Homo sapiens
Serpentes
Varanidae
Felis silvestris libyca
Vulpes vulpes
Canis lupus familiaris

Based on studies in:
Polynesia (Reef)
India, Rajasthan Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • W. A. Niering, Terrestrial ecology of Kapingamarangi Atoll, Caroline Islands, Ecol. Monogr. 33(2):131-160, from p. 157 (1963).
  • I. K. Sharma, A study of ecosystems of the Indian desert, Trans. Indian Soc. Desert Technol. and Univ. Center Desert Stud. 5(2):51-55, from p. 52 and A study of agro-ecosystems in the Indian desert, ibid. 5:77-82, from p. 79 1980).
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Known prey organisms

Phasianidae (partridge, peafowl, babbler) preys on:

animal dung
Araneae
Hymenoptera
Cicindelidae
Camponotus pennsylvanicus
Serpentes
Varanidae

Based on studies in:
Polynesia (Reef)
India, Rajasthan Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • W. A. Niering, Terrestrial ecology of Kapingamarangi Atoll, Caroline Islands, Ecol. Monogr. 33(2):131-160, from p. 157 (1963).
  • I. K. Sharma, A study of ecosystems of the Indian desert, Trans. Indian Soc. Desert Technol. and Univ. Center Desert Stud. 5(2):51-55, from p. 52 and A study of agro-ecosystems in the Indian desert, ibid. 5:77-82, from p. 79 1980).
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Visual signaling may occur through morphological features or behavioral interactions. Some phasianids have brightly colored skin on the face or neck, wattles or elaborately structured and brightly colored plumage. Males appear to display these features during courtship and during agonistic male-male interactions. Posturing during threat displays may entail upright lateral or frontal positioning while submission may involve a lowering of the body to the substrate.

Phasianid vocalizations range from the familiar crowing of the domestic fowl to loud screams to clucking or hissing. Crowing may be individually identifiable signals for territory defense or mate attraction. Sustained raucous screams may be given in response to alarm. Threat vocalizations are low in frequency and submission appears to be accompanied by hissing. Clucking may serve as a brood gathering vocalization. Phasianids may also produce acoustic signals by rattling tail feathers or by drumming in flight as known from some grouse.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Some species in the wild may live for five to eight years (grouse) whereas some captive phasianids have survived for 30 years (Great Argus).

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Reproduction

Phasianid mating systems are variable depending upon species.  Some taxa are described as monogamous with the pair bond lasting the duration of the breeding season Generally monogamous species are sexually monomorphic in plumage coloration and size, or slightly dimorphic. Some taxa are polygynous with a pair bond evident until incubation of the eggs. Males of these taxa are often brighter or larger than females. Polygynandry has also been observed in some taxa, with pair bonds evident to copulation. In these taxa males are generally more brightly colored and often somewhat larger than females. In some species males gather on leks to display for females. Courtship behaviors may include tid-bitting (food-showing), strutting, waltzing, and wing-lowering. Sometimes elaborate lateral or frontal displays take place, in which males expose the most colorful parts of their plumage, which may include tail spreading and displaying of swollen wattles. Socially dominant males may copulate more frequently and more successfully than males lower in the social hierarchy. Status in the male hierarchy may be related to size, coloration and relative display characteristics.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Many phasianids breed seasonally, usually coinciding with springtime for temperate species and the wet season for tropical species. Courtship in some species entails elaborate visual displays in which males may strut about displaying brightly colored plumage or wattles. Sometimes males congregate on leks to display for females. Females appear to select the nest site and likely construct the nest. Nests are usually shallow, often lined with grass and leaves. Nests are often located on the ground, but some species use tussocks or trees. Female nest building behavior entails picking up material and tossing it backwards. Egg coloration varies, and may be white, olive, brown or spotted. Clutch size varies by species, ranging from 2 to 20 eggs. In some species egg-dumping may occur. Incubation begins with the last egg laid and is variable by species, lasting from 18 to 29 days. Chicks are precocial and are covered with down and first primaries or secondaries upon hatching. Chicks can walk, run and forage shortly after hatching, yet stay close to the female during the first week or two. Within two weeks chicks may begin to fly and to disperse, but will still brood with the female. Depending on the species, broods may dissolve sometime between six to sixteen weeks. Adult plumage may be attained at one to two years and sexual maturity from one to five years.

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

In phasianids, it appears that females alone incubate, beginning with the last egg laid and continuing for 19 to 29 days. Females may brood chicks for as long as 16 weeks. In some species males help rear young by providing defense of nest or brood. In other species males appear to provide no parental care. Parents and offspring of some species join coveys or flocks at the end of the breeding season.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.
  • Campbell, B., E. Lack. 1985. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermilion: Buteo Books.
  • Dickson, J. 1992. The Wild Turkey: biology and management. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1999. The Pheasants of the World Biology and Natural History. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1983. The Grouse of the World. Lincoln, NE: Univeristy of Nebraska Press.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 549
Specimens with Sequences: 756
Specimens with Barcodes: 468
Species: 72
Species With Barcodes: 68
Public Records: 372
Public Species: 61
Public BINs: 50
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Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 56
Specimens with Sequences: 59
Specimens with Barcodes: 52
Species: 2
Species With Barcodes: 2
Public Records: 13
Public Species: 1
Public BINs: 1
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Barcode data

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Barcode data

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Conservation

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes 68 phasianid species. Two species are listed as extinct: double-banded argus (Argusianus bipunctatus) and New Zealand quail (Coturnix novaezelandiae). Habitat loss and hunting are among the major threats identified for this group.

  • Collar, N., M. Crosby, A. Stattersfield. 1994. Birds to Watch 2, The World List of Threatened Birds. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • IUCN, 2007. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed May 03, 2007 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Phasianids may cause damage to some agricultural crops (maize, barley, wheat, millet) by foraging for seeds and shoots on cultivated lands.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Phasianids are economically important to humans. Phasianids such as grouse, quail, partridges, pheasants and turkeys are important game birds that are hunted regularly in all parts of the world. Some phasianids, such as common fowl (derived from Gallus gallus), have been domesticated and are reared for human consumption of meat and eggs and for "fancy". Most species are hunted primarily for food, although feathers of some species have been collected for ornamentation and clothing manufacture. Sometimes bones have been used in the manufacture of various tools.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; produces fertilizer

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Wikipedia

Old World quail

For other uses, see Quail (disambiguation).
A quail trap from Malaysia, also known as the jebak puyuh: A female quail was placed in the woven container behind the netting. As the female called out, a male mate would approach and then the trap would fall on him. Quails are now rarely found in the wild in Malaysia, so such devices now serve as decoration.[1]

Old World quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds in the pheasant family Phasianidae. New World quail are also found in the Galliformes, but are not in the same family (Odontophoridae). Buttonquails are not closely related at all, but are named for their similar appearance.[2] They are presently found in the Turnicidae family in the Charadriiformes, more closely related to shorebirds, gulls and auks.

The collective noun for a group of quail is flock, bevy or covey.[3]

Taxonomy[edit]

Old World quail may refer to the following species of Phasianidae:

Behaviour[edit]

Old World quail are small, plump terrestrial birds. They are seed eaters, but will also take insects and similar small prey. They nest on the ground and are capable of short, rapid bursts of flight. Some species, such as the Japanese and common quail, are migratory and fly for long distances.[4] [5] Some quail are farmed in large numbers. The common and Japanese (or coturnix) quail are both raised for table meat or to produce eggs. They are also readily hunted, often artificially stocked on game farms or to supplement wild populations.

Migrating common quail are known to eat some poisonous seeds with no apparent ill effects but store the poison in their body fat, poisoning people who subsequently eat these birds; this condition is known as "coturnism".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Phillips, Lori Byrd (March 8, 2012). "Wikipedia Image of the Week #2". Wikipedia in Residence. Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.beautyofbirds.com/quailinfo.html
  3. ^ USGS - Animal Congregations, or What Do You Call a Group
  4. ^ "Coturnix japonica (Japanese quail)". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  5. ^ "Coturnix coturnix (common quail)". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  6. ^ Coturnism: Human Poisoning By European Migratory Quail Journal of Cultural Geography Volume 7, Issue 2, 1987, Pages 51 - 65 Authors: David C. Lewisa; Elizabeth Metallinos-Katzarasb; Louis E. Grivettic doi:10.1080/08873638709478507
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Argus (bird)

An argus is a member of either of two species of bird in the family Phasianidae that are closely related to pheasants and peafowl. It has hundreds or thousands of tiny white spots on its plumage pattern, and thus its naming might have been in reference to the mythical hundred-eyed giant argus, Argus Panoptes.

Two genera of birds are considered arguses: Rheinardia and Argusianus. Within these genera there are two recognized species each with two subspecies. Argusianus has also been credited with a mysterious second species that is sometimes thought to have gone extinct, but this is most likely based on a simple genetic aberration in the established species.

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Quail

Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds generally considered in the order Galliformes. Old World quail are found in the family Phasianidae, while New World quail are found in the family Odontophoridae. The Buttonquail are not quail at all, are named more for their appearance superficially resembling quail, and are members of the Turnicidae family, more closely related to the Charadriiformes. The King Quail, a member of the Old World quail, is often sold in the pet trade and is commonly referred to there as a "button quail". Many of the common larger species are farm raised for table food or egg consumption, and are hunted on game farms or in the wild, where they are sometimes artificially stocked to supplement the wild population, or extend into areas they are normally not found naturally.

The collective noun for a group of quail is called a covey.[1]

Taxonomy

New World quail may refer to the following species of Odontophoridae:

Old World quail may refer to the following species of Phasianidae:

References

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Phasianidae

Phasianidae!<-- This template has to be "warmed up" before it can be used, for some reason -->

Eukaryota

The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and partridges, including the junglefowl (including chicken), Old World quail, francolins, monals and peafowl. The family is a large one, containing 38 genera and around 138 species. The family is occasionally broken up into two subfamilies, the Phasianinae, which holds 49 species of pheasant, and the Perdicinae, which holds the 106 remaining species. Sometimes additional families and birds are treated as being in this family as well; the American Ornithologists' Union includes Tetraonidae (the grouse), Numididae (guineafowls), and Meleagrididae (turkeys) in Phasianidae as subfamilies.

Contents

Distribution

The pheasants and their allies are an Old World family, with a distribution that includes most of Europe and Asia (except the far north), all of Africa except the driest deserts and down into much of eastern Australia and (formerly) New Zealand. The greatest diversity of species is in Southeast Asia and Africa. Amongst the pheasants, with the exception of the Congo Peafowl, the distribution is entirely restricted to Asia; the Perdicinae have a much more widespread distribution. Within their range they occupy almost every available habitat except for boreal forest and tundra.

The family is generally sedentary and resident, although some quails undertake long migrations. Several species in the family have been widely introduced around the world, particularly pheasants which have been introduced to Europe, Australia and the Americas. Captive populations of peacocks and chickens have also escaped and become feral.

Description

Phasianids are terrestrial, ground living species. They are variable in size and ranging from 43 g, in the case of the Asian Blue Quail, to 6 kg in the case of the Indian Peafowl. There is generally sexual dimorphism in size, with males tending to be larger than females. They are generally plump, with broad relatively short wings and strong legs. Many have a spur on their legs, a feature shared with guineafowl and turkeys but no other galliform birds. The bill is short and generally strong, particularly in species that dig in order to obtain food. Males of the larger species often have brightly coloured plumage as well as facial ornamentations such as wattles or crests.

Behaviour

The pheasants and partridges have a varied diet, with foods taken ranging from purely vegetarian diets of seeds, leaves, fruits, tubers and roots, to small animals including insects, insect grubs and even small reptiles. Most species either specialise in feeding on plant matter or are predatory, although the chicks of most species are insectivorous.

In addition to the variation in diet there is a considerable amount of variation in breeding strategies amongst the Phasianidae. Compared to birds in general there is a large number of species that do not engage in monogamy (the typical breeding system of most birds). The francolins of Africa and some partridges are reportedly monogamous, but polygamy has been reported in the pheasants and junglefowl, some quail, and the breeding displays of peacocks have been compared to those of a lek. Nesting usually occurs on the ground; only the tragopans nest higher up in stumps of bushes. Nests can vary from monds of vegetation to slight scrapes in the ground. As many as 18 eggs can be laid in the nest, although 7-12 is the more usual number, with smaller numbers in tropical species. Incubation is almost always performed by the female only, and last from 14–30 days depending on the species.

Relationship with humans

Several species of pheasant and partridge are extremely important to humans. The Red Junglefowl of Southeast Asia is the wild ancestor of the domesticated chicken, the most important bird in agriculture. Ring-necked Pheasants, several partridge and quail species and some francolins have been widely introduced and managed as game birds for hunting. Several species are threatened by human activities.

Genera

Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus

References

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