Also known as the Crimson-horned pheasant, the Satyr tragopan is as striking as its Himalayan home, but its numbers in the wild are gradually decreasing
The Satyr tragopan, also known as the Crimson-horned pheasant, can be found in thickly forested mountain areas of India, Tibet, Bhutan, China and Nepal, and its appearance is as striking as its home. With deep crimson feathering interspersed with white spots, this pheasant is prized for its appearance.
For another pheasant from the Himalayas, read Cheer pheasant: a Himalayan native. Or for something a little closer to home, read about the modern chicken’s ancestor, Grey junglefowl: the wild ancestor.
The Satyr tragopan, also known as the Crimson-horned pheasant, is prized for its striking appearance. The adult cock bird has crimson feathering interspersed with white spots, small on the neck, larger towards the tail. In the mating season he displays horns and a blue wattle. He hides behind a rock waiting for a female to pass by before jumping out and performing his elaborate display – behaviour that would certainly get you arrested on Hampstead Heath.
This bird lives between 8,000 and 10,000ft in thickly forested mountain areas of India, Tibet, Nepal, China and Bhutan. The ornithologist William Beebe visited the region in 1910 while researching his acclaimed four-volume work A Monograph of the Pheasants, and was struck by the beauty of both the bird and its habitat. “From some mossy perch the booming crescendo challenge of the cock rings out every morning. Around him the rhododendron trees are masses of colour; scarlet, salmon, cerise, pink and rose, and beneath, the ground is lavendered with alpine primroses. Words can never describe the beauty of this magnificent bird in its Himalayan home.”
In the wild, numbers of the Satyr tragopan are decreasing due to loss of habitat and unregulated hunting. The bird is relatively common in captivity, although much of the captive stock is impure, having been allowed to cross-breed with the very similar Teminck’s tragopan.