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Great Argus Pheasant Fact File

Argusianus argus

Weight

2.7kg

(6lbs)

Length

200cm (Male)

(79in) (Male)

Lifespan

Wild 1 years

Captive 20 years

Diet

Omnivore

Plants, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Vulnerable

The great argus pheasant is among the largest pheasant species with males often being over twice the size of the females. Most of this is due to the long tail which they can use during displays to attract a mate.

These animals are omnivores and spend much of their time on the forest floor looking out for fruits, berries, seeds, insects and more.

They produce a loud "kwow wow" call which carries for several miles across the forest.

Unfortunately the population of these pheasants are reducing due to habitat loss and hunting for their feathers, the pet trade and for food.

Read on to learn more about the breathtaking birds.

Appearance

The male Great argus pheasant dwarfs the female with his long tail feathers. These are reminiscent of the peacock though the two species are not closely related. During breeding season these are raised behind them along with the wings which will show off the large eye-like markings on the wings.

Males and females both share a blue head and neck. At the back of this head is a small crest of black feathers.

Across their body the male and female feature brown feathers which are patterned with white spots. The upper breast is colored rusty red while the central tail feathers are colored grey.

Females lack the large tail feathers, have a paler blue to their head and the tail is patterned with bars.

Males reach lengths of up to 200cm (79in) long while the females measure in at just 76cm (30in) long.

Diet


Great argus pheasants are omnivores. Their diet includes fruits, berries, seeds, flowers, leaf buds and invertebrates.

Feeding takes place on the forest floor.

Great Argus Pheasant

Range

Asia is the native home of the great argus pheasant. Here they can be found in Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Malaysia; Myanmar and Thailand.

The species is recorded as extinct in Singapore.

Habitat

Great argus pheasants make their home in forests. These include primary, lowland or secondary forest. Their primary habitat features large trees and an open understory.

They have shown a tolerance to live in areas of forest which have been subject to selective logging.

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Reproduction

The male great argus pheasant will take up a position within a forest clearing. He lets out a series of loud calls to attract females and then performs a dance for them in which he spreads the large wings and tail feathers.

After mating the male has no further involvement with the female leaving her alone to build the nest and raise there young.

Females will deposit the eggs in to a hollow which is lined with grass. The two eggs are colored creamy white. These are incubated for 25 days.

Males begin to develop their train of feathers at 3 years old and they fully grow in over the next four years as they moult.

Sexual maturity is reached by three years old.

Behavior

Males are unable to fly long distances due to the long train of feathers and their enlarged feathers. Females are much more successful in flight.

Outside of the breeding season these animals are primarily solitary.

The "kwow wow" call of the male is able to carry for several miles through the forest. Most of their calls are made around sunrise and sunset.

Great Argus Pheasant

Predators and Threats

The most recently available survey of great argus pheasant numbers placed their population at over 100,000 individuals. It is generally accepted though that their population is in decline and the species has already gone extinct in Singapore.

Threats to their survival include the destruction of the forests which they inhabit. This is driven by logging and conversion to agriculture. Drought also impacts them.

These animals are collected to be sold in to the pet trade and to gather their feathers and for use in food.

Quick facts

They are also known as the Malay argus pheasant.

Carolus Linnaeus named the great argus pheasant.

Their name is drawn from the character Argus in Greek mythology. He was a giant with a hundred eyes similar to the many eye spots on the great argus pheasant.

Great argus pheasants are the only living members of their genus, Argusianus.

Great Argus Pheasant

Photo Credits

Top

Francesco Veronesi from Italy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Public Domain

Middle Two

SandyCole, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

Yuliseperi2020, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

Burnie, D., 2019. Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia. UK: Kingfisher Books Ltd.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

BirdLife International. 2020. Argusianus argus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22725006A183255774. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22725006A183255774.en. Downloaded on 04 August 2021.

Poultry, P., 2021. Great Argus Pheasants | Purely Poultry. [online] Purely Poultry. Available at: <https://www.purelypoultry.com/great-argus-pheasants-p-1228.html> [Accessed 4 August 2021].

Paignton Zoo. 2021. Visit Great Argus Pheasant – A Zoo With Great Argus Pheasant • Paignton Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/animals-az/great-argus-pheasant/> [Accessed 4 August 2021].

Minnesota Zoo. 2021. Great Argus. [online] Available at: <https://mnzoo.org/blog/animals/malay-great-argus/> [Accessed 4 August 2021].

Honolulu Zoo Society. 2021. Great Argus – Honolulu Zoo Society. [online] Available at: <https://www.honoluluzoo.org/animals/great-argus/> [Accessed 4 August 2021].

Bukitlawang.com. 2021. Great Argus. [online] Available at: <http://www.bukitlawang.com/greatargus> [Accessed 4 August 2021].

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