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The Crested Fireback pheasants (Lophura ignita ignita) include four different sub-species which are all endemic to the tropical rainforest regions of Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra and Borneo. Due to habitat destruction these pheasants are listed under Appendix III as a near threatened species.
These are striking birds, particularly the males with their cobalt blue faces and dark metallic blue plumage.
- Lesser Bornean Crested Firebacks (Lophura ignita ignita) nominate form, native to Southern Borneo.
- Greater Bornean Crested Firebacks ( Lophura ignita nobilis)
- NOTE: The only difference between these lesser bornean and the greater bornean crested firebacks is a slight variation in size - the former being the larger of the two.
- Crested Firebacks
- Vieillot's Crested Firebacks (Lophura ignita rufa)Delacour's Crested Firebacks (Lophura ignita macartneyi).
Unlike most other pheasants of their size, the Bornean Crested Firebacks are not polygamous and are usually seen in pairs.
At Allandoo we keep Lophura ignita nobilis which is the Greater Bornean Crested Fireback pheasant. Lophura ignita ignita is the Lesser Bornean Crested Fireback Pheasant. The only difference between these two subspecies is a slight variation in size the former being the larger of the two. There are also another two subspecies of Crested Fireback. One of these is Vieillot's (Lophura ignita rufa) and the other is Delacour's (Lophura ignita macartneyi).
The male Bornean Crested Fireback pheasant is a splendid looking bird. It has a mainly blue/black body with the metallic sheen seen in many of the pheasants. The lower breast is copper colored with a deeper shade of reddish brown on the back. They have a wide (vertically) curved tail which is cream at the top with the contrasting bottom feathers being the same bluish shade of black as the main body. The face has bright blue wattles which are expanded to twice the size when the bird is displaying. The hen also has a blue face. She has a brown body with white streaks on her breast and unlike the Vieillot's hen which has red legs the Bornean's legs are greyish in colour.
The Male Firebacks are extremely territorial and can be very harsh on the hen so it is best to include plenty of plants in the aviary so the hen can hide out of the way if need be. Most attempts to encourage Fireback hens to use man made structures to hide under fail miserably.
The Bornean Firebacks are NOT hardy birds. They need to have some heat during the winter months and often they prefer to stay in their shelter on the colder days. They can get frostbite on their toes so it is essential to have a perch wide enough for them to be able to keep their feet completely covered when resting. This should be at least three inches (8 cm) wide.
The breeding season starts later than in most of the pheasant species. In May the hen will start to lay a clutch of 4 - 8 eggs. The Fireback hens like to find their own spot, usually in a corner (unless there is a nestbox in the way), to lay their eggs. If the eggs are not left for the hen to incubate herself she will go on to lay a few clutches possibly laying as many as 24 eggs in a year.
The Bornean Crested Firebacks, like the Vieillot's, are wonderful aviary birds which although they are not as easy to tame as some species are great birds to watch as they are often displaying and will spend much of their time putting on a good show for everyone see.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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