Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Kalij pheasant

Binomial name: Lophura leucomelanos (John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, 1790)

The kalij pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos) is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills, from the Himalayas of Nepal to western Thailand. Males are rather variable depending on the subspecies involved, but all have an at least partially glossy bluish-black plumage, while females are overall brownish. Both sexes have a bare red face and greyish legs (the latter separating it from the red-legged silver pheasant). It is generally common and widespread, though three of its eastern subspecies (oatesi, lineata and crawfurdi) are considered threatened and moffitti is virtually unknown in the wild.

The name is also spelt kaleege in old texts, such as Game Birds of India and Asia by Frank Finn, though no longer in his Indian Sporting Birds. It has also been introduced to Hawaii (though somewhat rare), where it is considered an invasive species because it consumes and disperses seeds of invasive plant species.


The kalij pheasant is closely related to the silver pheasant and the two are known to hybridize. The placement of the taxa lineata and crawfurdi has been a matter of dispute, with some treating them as subspecies of the kalij pheasant and others as subspecies of the silver pheasant. They have greyish legs as in the kalij pheasant, but their plumage is closer to that of some subspecies of the silver pheasant. Additionally, as the silver pheasant, lineata and crawfurdi are found east of the Irrawaddy River, a major zoogeographic barrier, while all other subspecies of the kalij pheasant are found west of the river (oatesi, a subspecies of the kalij pheasant, has sometimes been reported as occurring east of that river, but this is incorrect). Based on mtDNA, it was recently confirmed that lineata and crawfurdi should be regarded as subspecies of the kalij pheasant.


Males have a total length of 63 to 74 cm and females 50 to 60 cm. Height is... Very roughly, the subspecies can be divided into two main groups, with the first (subspecies hamiltoni, leucomelanos, melanota, moffitti and lathami) being found in the western and central part of the species' range, while the second (williamsi, oatesi, lineata and crawfurdi) is found in the eastern part. In the males of the first group most of plumage is glossy blue-black, though with white to the rump or underparts in most subspecies, and in hamiltoni, the westernmost subspecies, the crest is white (all other have a blue-black crest). In the second group, the underparts and crest are glossy blue-black, but the tail and upperparts are white (or very pale grey) with most feathers densely vermiculated with black.

Females are brownish. In some subspecies the underparts are distinctly marked in whitish and black, while in others most feathers are pale-edged, resulting in a scaly appearance.

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Videos of Kalij pheasant

  • Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

    Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

  • Kalij pheasant

    Kalij pheasant

  • Kalij pheasant

    Kalij pheasant

  • Kalij Pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

    Kalij Pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

  • Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachang National

    Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachang National

  • Kalij pheasant

    Kalij pheasant

  • Kalij pheasant (male) - West Bengal, India

    Kalij pheasant (male) - West Bengal, India

Scientific classification

Lophura leucomelanos


  • Lophura leucomelanos crawfurdi (John Edward Gray, 1829) - Southeastern Myanmar to peninsular Thailand

    Common name(s): Crawfurt's pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos hamiltoni (John Edward Gray, 1829) - Western Himalayas

    Common name(s): White-crested kalij pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos lathami (John Edward Gray, 1829) - Eastern Bhutan and northern India to Myanmar

    Common name(s): Horsfield's pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos leucomelanos (John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, 1790) - (nominate) Forests of Nepal
  • Lophura leucomelanos lineata (Nicholas Aylward Vigors, 1831) - Southern Myanmar to northwestern Thailand

    Common name(s): Lineated pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos melanota (T. Hutton, 1848) - Sikkim and western Bhutan

    Common name(s): Black-backed kalij pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos moffitti (Masauyi Hachisuka, 1938) - Central Myanmar

    Common name(s): Black kalij pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos oatesi (William Robert Ogilvie-Grant, 1893) - Southern Myanmar

    Common name(s): Oate's kalij pheasant

  • Lophura leucomelanos williamsi (Eugene William Oates, 1898) - Western Myanmar

    Common name(s): William's kalij pheasant

Kalij pheasant is found in following locations in Thailand

Please note that this non-official list is not complete nor necessarily accurate. This list is a summary of checklists from other websites, blogs, publications, photo/videos published on various websites or our own findings. We appreciate your contributions with photo proof.

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Lophura leucomelanos

Lophura leucomelanos

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

Kalij pheasant - Kaeng Krachan National Park

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Range map of Lophura leucomelanos in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are generated automatically based on very limited data we have about the protected sites, the data is not necessarily accurate. Please help us to improve our range maps by sharing your findings/knowledge.