views updated

Phasianidae (francolins, junglefowl, partridges, peafowl, pheasants, quails; class Aves, order Galliformes) A family of small to large gamebirds which have black and brown, cryptic or highly multicoloured plumage. Many have crests, and bare skin and wattles on their faces. Their bills are short and stout (but francolins (40 species of Francolinus) have large bills), their necks short to long, their tails short to very long, and their legs short to long, often having one or more spurs. Junglefowl (four species of Gallus found in India, south-east Asia, and Indonesia) have bare, red, wattled face, and the male has a large, fleshy comb on its crown; G. gallus (red junglefowl) is the wild ancestor of the domestic chicken. Males of the two species of Phasianus (pheasants) have metallic green heads, red wattles around the eyes, two ear tufts, and coppery-red or green body plumage, with a very long, black-barred, brown tail; females are dull brown. The genus is native to Asia but P. colchicus (common or ring-necked pheasant) has been introduced to Europe, N. America, and New Zealand, and francolins occur in Europe and Africa as well as Asia. The three species of partridges (Perdix), native to Europe and Asia are brown and grey; the grey partridge (P. perdix) has an orange-brown mask; it has been introduced to N. America and New Zealand. The 15–18 species of Arborophila (tree partridges), found in Asia, lack spurs. Wood quails (14 species of Odontophorus) are medium-sized birds, with long crown feathers on the head, and occur only in Central and S. America. The tails of peacocks are highly elaborate for display. Members of the family are terrestrial, inhabiting woodland, grassland, and open, barren areas. They feed on seeds, berries, and insects, and nest on the ground. There are 48–50 genera, and 190 species, some migratory, found world-wide.