Red Junglefow’s chicks

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Species | 5

“Earlier this month (April 2012), I had an encounter with a family of Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) hen and her five little chicks. The hen was an old acquaintance that I had met a few times and had been featured in an earlier posting LINK.

“Previous encounters with chicks of the Red Junglefowl were often very brief affairs as they were skittish and quickly took cover when aware of being watched. I was in better luck this time as they chose an open spot for a short rest. They were aware of my presence as I was in the open with nowhere to hide. However, my presence seemed to be accepted as they were quite comfortable and at ease. In between bouts of resting, they were preening themselves; eyelids often closing as they turned their heads to reach towards their hinds. The mother was standing guard for her chicks as they indulged in comfort behaviour (above).

“The Red Junglefowl hens’ plumage has been shown to vary in the earlier posting. From the attached images, the chicks’ plumage also exhibited a wide degree of variations. According to information browsed from googling, inter-breeding had resulted in hybridisation of this species. Hence, pure-bred Red Junglefowl are increasingly hard to find. Could this wide variation in plumage for this brood of chicks be a sign that these are not pure-bred Red Junglefowls?

“Visually, Chick “A” (above left) was the outstanding one with its mostly white plumage. Except for a tinge of orange on its head and body, it was white with no markings or patterns on its plumage. Is this chick considered leucistic?

“Chicks “B” (above right) and “C” (below left) would seem to be the typical plumage for a Red Junglefowl chick. My previous sightings of chicks were similar in appearance: buff-coloured faces with dark eye stripe, dark-coloured bar and speckled patterns on wings, and a distinct crown stripe. Both chicks were almost similar but can be separated and recognised by their subtle differences in plumage colour. Chick “B” was with slightly lighter-coloured plumage compared with Chick “C”. They can also be differentiated by the markings on their crown stripes.

“Chick “D” (above right) possessed the darkest plumage, which was mostly dark-brownish. It did not have much markings on its body. Its neck was almost black. But it had the broadest eye stripe amongst the chicks.

“Chick “E” (above left) was more saturated in colour. It had a chestnut-coloured plumage. It lack the typical markings including crown stripe. However, it had an eye stripe though it was barely visible. [The above right image shows two chicks preening.]”

Kwong Wai Chong
Singapore
25th April 2012

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5 Responses

  1. Tou Jing Yi

    erm….. even Mummy might be in question whether it was a Junglefowl after all, the posture looked very Serama (Malaysian Bantams) liked and the chicks are very variable, definitely look more like what we will expect in a clutch of domestic fowls. The Serama/Katik often resembles the Junglefowl in plumage but the postures are not as similar.

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  2. Lee Chiu San

    The pedigree of the birds could be questionable, but whatever the case, we should be glad to see this interesting addition to the local avifauna. It has been recorded that in Malaysia, genuinely wild Jungle Fowl do hybridize with kampong chickens.

    After all, the Jungle Fowl contributed a large part of the founding genetic stock of the Domestic Chicken.

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    • Tou Jing Yi

      Yes, it is believed that there were no longer any pure breed of Red Junglefowl left in Peninsular Malaysia anyway, I had seen serious results of hybridization in the semi-wild populations at Bukit Kiara, KL. The Junglefowl there looks like mixtures of domestic and junglefowls but wandering in the wild and carpark in the vicinity, some looked exactly like a junglefowl but very yellowish legs. However, I had not seen such serious degree of genetic pollution in the populations I saw in Ipoh or Kampar which greatly retains the features of a perfect junglefowl. The domestic breeds are believed to be originating from the Thailand subspecies, the nominated “gallus” but the subspecies here is believed to be “spadiceus”, so it was probably just a sibling-ancestor in contribution of genes to the domestic forms.

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      • Ari Anderson

        I think the Jungle Fowl nation will soon have a dictator, one who will remind citizens of the Fatherland of their racial superiority, and forbid any acts that pollute their pure bloodlines. :/

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  3. Ari Anderson

    Well-written article, thanks. But please tell me where you photographed this Jungle Fowl family.

    It’s re-assuring to know others in the world have the same odd interests that I have. My particular and very serious concern is about saving and expanding our planet’s “remnants of Eden”.

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