that's interesting because there's no other photo I've seen of a Green Peafowl that dark in colour.
Yeah that's probably the most interesting peafowl I've ever seen. Not only was it hulking in size- with a strange posture- but the vocalizations- haunting- reminiscent of Afropavo but also a bit of the timbre of the Crested Argus and the oh oh oh oh oh of other Green Peafowl.
What is the form of Imperator living in Cambodia? Is it for sure "siamensis" or could there be some variation suggesting it's a different subspecies? I now doubt the "purity" of siamensis in Thailand due to its integradation with annamensis. It appears many bird in Thailand, especially females, have annamensis traits.
Franky a few clicks back I asked for readers to really study the topography and river systems of South East Asia. Cambodia is a very big country.
The high altitude forms which live in the broadleaf forests are one of the annamensis forms. This includes birds from regions of Yunnan and Northern Thailand as well as Laos. True imperator is a bird of lowland deciduous forest and the great plains of Thailand. There are regions where imperator is still reminiscent of its annamensis or spicifer ancestors. This is more of a product of natural selection than cross-breeding. Females don't survive if they don't match the environment they live in. Males are less conservative in this regard as they have fewer predators- or rather- a certain class of predators generally leaves adult males alone and their habit of perching very high challenging all classes of predators including those birds of prey that generally avoid him but seek out his offspring and mate- his colouration is under different constraints- light reflectivity is more important -barring is less important. When we look at Lophura pheasants we can appreciate how closely males of two different forms will resemble one another- the Lineated Kalij and the Annamese Silver Pheasant for example, but one look at their females and we see something radically ( for a bird nerd) divergent between the two. The close similarity in phenotype led one author named McGowan to make the mistake of reclassifying Lineated Kalij. Going against the systematics of true naturalists of previous generations, he decided that Lineated Kalij are silver pheasants not kalij. Had he been studying the females he would not have made that error but he chose to look at males.
Tim Crowe and myself tried to talk sense into him before he published his paper and his book - where he reclassified the two species into one- but molecular work soon disproved his theory. In other instances with Lophura pheasants we have females that closely resemble one another but the males are radically different in appearance. The Hainan silver pheasant is very similar to the Crawfurd's kalij female but the males are highly dissimilar. Their habitats are what link them and the females of these two distinct species are perfectly camouflaged in an unusual forest type- that of- the moist evergreen broad leaf forest. The Hainan is living higher in elevation and amongst timber bamboo forest. It ventures into open grassland on mountain slopes. The Crawfurd's habitat is nowhere marked with such contrasts as that of the Hainan silver. Regardless, their females tend to nest at the highest elevations feasible- possibly to protect their eggs and chicks from the largest percentage of tree snake and monitor lizard species, which as a rule do not frequent areas above a specific altitude- a number I cannot remember at this moment. The females are similar because their nesting habitat is essentially similar. The males are dissimilar because their nocturnal roosting habitat is quite different. For most landfowl and really waterfowl as well- the genders of sexually dichromatic species are preyed upon by many of the same opportunistic predators (like goshawks for example) but specialised predators that depend greatly on any specific fowl type are generally contributing more to the phenotype of a given population. In silver pheasants and kalij males are camouflaged at night and females by day. That's not to say the females are not camouflaged at night as well as the day but rather, the discerning eyes of the diurnal predator- mammals like junglecats and hawks are likely to detect the birds and get after them during the day. The males draw attention to themselves in these encounters. Though strangely, they too can vanish by just standing still in plain sight as light and shadow play tricks on the eyes- depth of field is something they seem intimately aware of- as are peafowl- perhaps even more so- but at night when the owl and civet cats are hunting- while the birds are most helpless because they cannot see well-their plumage must perfectly conceal them especially on full moon lights and during the dry season/winter when the landscape is often grass/bamboo leaves parched white or covered in mist, frost or snow. Here is where natural selection of males is taking place as it is the males that sound at alarm at the first detection of the approach of a predator. It's the males that whir their wings first and let out their seep seep shriek whistle alerting the flock of the civet or owl. And it's he that's going to fly off and draw attention to himself- and he's most difficult to see in the shadows as counter-intuitive as that may seem. If the bird is too bright or too dark he may not be able to conceal himself- depending on the habitat they choose to roost in.
I often return to Lophura pheasants because the relationship between habitat/ elevation is so tied to their phenotype. Their biogeography is so readily apparent.
Peafowl are not perfectly analogous-. But they share certain commonalities in distribution and phenotypical clines. The lowland peafowl imperator has much the same range- not identical habitat but range of the Siamese Fireback. The montane form of peafowl annamensis shares the same range- again - not habitat with the black silvers- but you have to study the genotypey/systematics of silvers to gain an appreciation how misleading colour alone can be.
The Jone's silver pheasant of northern Thailand is related closest to the Lewis's and endemic of the Cardamon/Elephant Mountain range- that enormous ecological island in S.W. Cambodia. The black silvers include the Bolaven, the Annamese and Beli as well as the Hainan. The lowland peafowl is a brand new chick on the evolutionary scale compared with the much older montane lineage. The lowlands were covered in a freshwater sea for a very long while- before it became the great plains of Thailand and other lowland habitat it was either swamp jungle or marshland. The mountain ranges cutting around and through these regions were the home of the montane peafowl long before the lowland for came to exist because there was no suitable habitat for the lowland form to exist in.
I'm not sure this bird was from Cambodia and the grey skin around the eye reminds me of bokorensis (from a Thai breeder who is friends with Fritz)
I don't know. It seems to me to be an annamensis form. The wing map and facial skin -but I think he may be the nominate form. I'd have to see tissue samples analysed and mapped to know for certain.
These two birds are found in the same place in Soun Soben (in Southeast Cambodia), but they don't look like the same bird. The second bird has more of an "eyebrow" above the eye reminds me more of annamensis.
This is a region that recently in evolutionary time, become accessible to the lowland form but inhabited by the montane form. I suspect that this is a situation analagous with the Ruby Mines silver pheasant. It represents a population of extinct fireback related to the Siamese, which became stranded over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. Its habitat became increasingly fragmented and ceased to exist as the mountain ranges under neath it expanded and rose -the course of weather patterns changed- and a habitat ideal for the silver pheasant was soon exploited by them. Whatever fireback remained in that region were genetically swamped by the silver. They have however left their genetic imprint and if one looks very carefully at this enigmatic form they can discern telltail traits accrued from fireback ancestors not to be seen in other silver pheasant forms.
With these S.E. Cambodian peafowl we have a situation where the two forms have had secondary contact but it is still in flux- which habitat is going to dominate over the last- deciduous open forest or broadleaf forest- this is going to determine the long term success of one phenotype or another.
Eventually this form will represent the genetically swamped remnants of one species overtaken by the other.
This picture's location is unknown but the bird looks very similar to the first picture. It definitely is an imperator but the way the skin goes around the eye is kinda strange (he looks mean that way!)
Maybe it will be Pavo imperator angkorensis?
This was a mistake on my part. The peafowl native to the area around Angkor are the siamensis intergrading with nominate imperator.
Cambodia's geography and ecology is something I'll have to look into. My concern is that one form is benefitting more over the other. ACCB is doing the most to conserve Green Peafowl and states that the last strongholds are in North and East Cambodia. Doesn't sound too good for Bokorensis...
As for Laos, almost nothing is known. Fritz's journey to Laos was unsuccessful in finding any Green Peafowl.
Fritz didn't climb high enough. He was looking for lowland adapted peafowl. I made the same mistake there as well as in the Cardamoms. These peafowl are not lowland adapted. They are submontane adapted broad leaf forest inhabitants- very different- very quiet- difficult to get anywhere near due to the nature of the forest floor making so much bloody noise when you move on it- loaded with twigs and huge dead leaves- ( and unexploded orddinances). When it rains and one can move about more readily without attracting attention- these higher altitude adapted forms are mostly silent and their calls have a highly ventriloqual quality to them.