Animal stories: Danfe
Himalayan Monal, a stunningly colourful bird is the national bird of Nepal where it is known
as Danfe. These birds are also commonly called the Impeyan Monal, named after Lady Mary Impey who first kept them in captivity. Himalayan Monals are the member of the pheasant family. They are 63-72 cm in length and weigh about two to three kgs.
The males have beautiful metallic colours of green, purple, red and blue. The head is bright green, the eyes ringed with blue and the neck reddish brown. Most notable features of males are changeable reddish copper on the back and sides of the neck and a prominent white back and rump while in flight. They possess a metallic green head-crest with spoon-shaped feathers. Their crest is very long, much like a peacock. Females look much duller
than the males but are still attractive. They have overall dark brown feathers and
the bright blue circle around the eyes. They have a white throat and a rump patch. They have shorter crest with ordinary brown feathers. Female monals are considered to be rather friendly than the males.
Monals feed on a variety of seeds, buds, shoots, roots, and some small mammals in the wild. They have very strong legs and a long, curved beak which together enable them to dig into the hard soil of the mountains to uncover seeds, tubers, shoots, berries, and insects. This method of foraging leaves conspicuous areas of turned over soil up to 25 cm deep on hillsides.
These monals live in mountainous regions. In the summer they live in grass and rock covered meadow but during winter they are found in mixed forests with a high proportion of rhododendrons and bamboo. They can tolerate cold weather very well, but need plenty of shelter and shade from the hot summer sun, as they are birds from the cool mountain forests. They are unable to survive in extreme heat.
Their breeding season begins late April. Females scrape a nest in the ground and lays between three to five eggs. Females incubate the eggs alone, but the males will stand guard throughout the 28-day incubation period. The males guard the area of the nest, protecting
mother and young ones.
After six months, the young are completely independent. They have to search for food and mates on their own.
communicative birdHimalayan monals use several different call types to express meaning to
their mates, other birds in their foraging group, or intruding birds. Males also use body displays like bobbing the head-crest and fanning their tail feathers to attract females.