Red Junglefowl: An odd female and the male’s spur

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An odd adult female.

“I saw this odd Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus spadiceus), an adult female feeding by the road side at the outskirts of the city (above, below). The bird had a larger comb that I am used to in females, brighter plumage in the head and neck and a clear white ear-wattle. I considered if this was a juvenile male but that is not likely; the bird looked like an adult. Another possibility is a hermaphrodite (gynandromorphy) with mixed male and female characteristics. I wonder if some form of hybridisation can cause this appearance? Appreciate opinions from personal experience.

An odd adult female.

“The adult male Red Junglefowl has long, sharp tarso-metatarsal spurs (Wells 1999). Although females are said by some to not have these spurs, Madge & McGowan (2002) says that some females may have a very short spur. Peters, et al (2016) say they are present in old female birds. They also say that the ‘shape and size of the spur enable distinguishing between infantile, juvenile, young-adult and mature birds‘.

Feet of one male – note spur.

“Breeding males are said to use the spur in fights with other rival males. I observed 2 adult males and 3 adult females. Both males had sizable tarso-metatarsal spurs (above)…

Female feet had “knobs” at the spur location.

“…and two females had ‘knobs’ at the spur location (above).

An adult pair.

“Notice also that the scales of the male and female feet are a little different – males tend to have more of shiny metallic grey look and females more a shiny off-brown look. The above and below show the same pair.

The same adult pair as above.

Joris Peters, Ophélie Lebrasseur, Hui Deng, Greger Larson. Holocene cultural history of Red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) and its domestic descendant in East Asia. Quaternary Science Reviews. Volume 142, 15 June 2016, Pages 102-119
2. Madge, S., McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth at city fringe
15th & 23rd May 2019

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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