October 2005 — Jungle Fowl

BY ANGELA HIJJAS

Until the 18th September, the predominant dry, hazy weather prevailed at Rimbun Dahan. Since the coming of the Equinox on about the 22nd September, we have had 309 mm rain in the last 35 days and clear blue skies are once more the norm. The Equinox, when the sun is directly above the Equator, usually brings unsettled weather that could have contributed to the prevalence of the American hurricanes in the last month.

In the last week of October, with the rainy season well under way, we decided to lop branches in the orchard, to give more light to smaller trees and thus encourage them to grow taller. As we dragged branches to a heap, a jungle fowl flew off from under our feet, revealing this nest with five eggs. We immediately moved away, except for a quick photograph, but didn’t see her return to the nest.

The species name is Gallus gallus, the evolutionary ancestor of all domestic breeds of chicken. Unmistakable with long, slender body. The male has bare red facial skin, comb and lappets below throat distinctive. Bright yellow hackles cover neck, breast and upper back; lower back maroon contrasting with reddish orange rump; secondaries largely chestnut; primates blackish. The female crown, head and neck reddish chestnut with dark brown and buff streaks on neck; upperparts dark olive brown, breast chestnut brown merging into olive brown belly; bare facial skin and superficial comb red. Both sexes have dark greyish legs and distinctive white ear patches. Readily intra-breeds with domestic chickens (that are the same species) but progeny usually lack these last characteristics. domestic varieties generally have more prominent combs and lappets. Strong flyers over short distances.