Red Junglefowl Fact File
The red junglefowl is the ancestor of the domestic chicken. They are slightly smaller than the domestic chicken.
Males are much more colorful than females. The male has orange-red feathers running down across the head down to their back. Across the rest of the body are brown, red, gold, grey, white and olive feathers. At the end of the body is a tail of metallic green feathers which are sickle shaped. On top of the head is a red comb with a red wattle under the chin. This red skin continues across their face.
Their feet are grey and have four clawed toes. Males have a spur on the back of the leg. The grey color of the leg is the main way to determine the difference between them and domestic chickens which have yellow legs.
Females appear significantly different to males. They have dull brown plumage across the entire body. Their tail is much shorter than males and brown in color.
Males are larger than females and measure 65-75cm (25.6-29.5in) long with females measuring 42-46cm (16.5-18in) long. Their weight is between 0.5 and 1.5kg (1-3.25lbs).
The red junglefowl is an omnivore. They feed on fallen fruit, seeds, grains, grasses and insects. Small vertebrates such as lizards may also be eaten.
Food goes to a part of the stomach called the gizzard where it is ground up by small stones to begin digestion.
Most feeding takes place on the ground though they may perch on a branch to eat fruit in the trees.
Water will be drunk where available though they do seem to get most of their water needs from their food.
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Asia is the native home of the red junglefowl. Here they naturally occur in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
The red jungefowl has been introduced to many places including Australia, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Jamaica, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico and the United States (Hawaiian Is.).
Naturally they make their home in forests.
They appear adaptable to human disturbed areas such as logged forests. They will visit burnt areas to access the seeds which are more present after burning.
The breeding season is variable across their range. In some parts of their range there is no breeding season and eggs may be laid year round while in other areas they show a distinct breeding season during spring and summer.
Males will display to a potential female by clucking along with picking up and dropping food over and over till the female takes it. A dominant male will attempt to maintain the exclusive mating rights over his females but some subordinate males are able to breed.
The hen will incubate her eggs for 21 days. Each clutch includes 5-8 buff white eggs. It may take up to 20 hours for them to break out of their shell.
By five weeks old the chicks are fully feathered. The mother will chase them out of her group at 12 weeks old.
At 5 months old they reach sexual maturity with females maturing slightly behind males.
They may hybridize with other junglefowl species though these are not often fertile. They can also interbreed with domestic chickens.
Red junglefowl will dust bathe to help keep their feathers in good condition. This regulates the amount of oil on the feathers.
Flights are limited with most only being made between the ground and branches.
At night they will roost in a tree which offer a level of protection against predators.
Within a group there is a dominant male and female with a distinct pecking order. Chicks will gain their place in the pecking order at 1 week old.
Predators and Threats
Humans affect the population of the red junglefowl through hunting for food and the pet trade.
The red junglefowl was domesticated to create the domestic chicken around 8,000 years ago.
By Lip Kee Yap from Singapore, Republic of Singapore – Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11391112
By Philip Pikart – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39531989
Three and Four
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BirdLife International. 2016. Gallus gallus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679199A92806965. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679199A92806965.en. Downloaded on 25 September 2020.
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