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Gallus sonneratii

Gallus sonneratii , Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Galliformes
Familia: Phasianidae
Subfamilia: Phasianinae
Genus: Gallus
Species: Gallus sonneratii
Subspecies: G. s. sonneratii - G. s. wangyeli

Gallus sonneratii (*)


Gallus sonneratii Temminck, 1813


* Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinaces. 2 p.246
* IUCN link: Gallus sonneratii Temminck (Least Concern)

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Sonnerathuhn
English: Grey Junglefowl
Bahasa Indonesia: Ayam-hutan Kelabu
日本語: ハイイロヤケイ
Svenska: Sonneratshöna

The Grey Junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii), also known as Sonnerat's Junglefowl, is a wild relative of domestic fowl that is endemic to India. This species is found mainly in peninsular India and where it overlaps with the distribution of the Red Junglefowl, it is known to form hybrids. The calls are loud and distinctive and they are hunted for meat and the long neck hackle feathers that are sought after for making fishing lures.


The male has a black cape with ochre spots and the body plumage on a gray ground colour is finely patterned. The elongated neck feathers are dark and end in a small, hard, yellowish plate; this peculiar structure making them popular for making high-grade artificial flies.[2] The legs are red and the wattles and combs are not as strongly developed as in the Red Junglefowl. Legs of males have spurs and females usually lack them.[3] The central tail feathers are long and sickle shaped. Males have an eclipse plumage in which they moult their colourful neck feathers in summer during or after the breeding season.[4] The female is duller and has black and white streaking on the underparts and yellow legs. They are found in thickets, on the forest floor and open scrub. Their loud calls of Ku-kayak-kyuk-kyuk can be heard in the early mornings and at dusk. Unlike the Red Junglefowl, the male does not flap its wing before uttering the call.[5] They forage in small mixed or single sex groups. They breed from February to May.[6] They lay 4 to 7 eggs which are pale creamy in a scrape. Eggs hatch in about 21 days. Although mostly seen on the ground, Grey Junglefowl fly into trees to escape predators and to roost. About this sound Call of male (help·info)About this sound Other calls (help·info)About this sound calls (help·info) They feed on grains including bamboo seeds, berries, insects and termites.

The populations from the Mt. Abu region of Rajasthan named as subspecies wangyeli is usually not recognized[7] although it is said that the calls of the cock from this region differs from the call of birds from southern India and the plumage is much paler.[8]

The species epithet commemorates the French explorer Pierre Sonnerat. Local names include Komri in Rajasthan, Geera kur or Parda komri in Gondi, Jangli Murghi in Hindi, Raan kombdi in Marathi, Kattu Kozhi in Tamil and Malayalam, Kaadu koli in Kannada and Tella adavi kodi in Telugu.[9]


The species is mainly in the Indian Peninsula but extends into Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and south Rajasthan. This species and the Red Junglefowl overlap slightly along the northern boundary of the distribution[6] although the ranges are largely non-overlapping.[8]

Evolution and status

The Grey Junglefowl is found mostly in Peninsular India, while the Red Junglefowl is found more along the foothills of the Himalayas. A region of overlap occurs in the Aravalli range. The species has been isolated by a variety of mechanisms including behavioural differences and genic incompatibility but hybridization is not unknown.[10][11] Some phylogenetic studies of Junglefowl show that this species is more closely related to the Ceylon Junglefowl Gallus lafayetii than to the Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus[12] but another study shows a more ambiguous position due to hybridization.[13] An endogenous retroviral DNA sequence, of the EAV-HP group noted in domestic fowl is also found in the genome of this species pointing to the early integration of the virus DNA into the genome of Gallus.[14]

A study in southern India found a density of 19.8 groups per square kilometer (but ranging from 1.67 to 34.42 in dry deciduous forests on plains) with an average group size of 1.3. The male to female ratio was 1:1.2 and the preferred habitat was low to moderate canopied forest with low or no grass cover.[15]

They are threatened by hunting for food and habitat loss. Feather use in fly-fishing has also been suggested as a threat.[16]


1. ^ BirdLife International (2009). Gallus sonneratii. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 9 October 2010.
2. ^ "Identification Notes". US Fish and Wildlife. http://www.lab.fws.gov/lab/docs/idnotes/pdf/IDB911.PDF.
3. ^ Editors (1954). "Occurrence of spurs in the female Junglefowl (Gallus sonnerati)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 52 (2-3): 603–604.
4. ^ Morejohn, G. V. (1968). "Study of the plumage of the four species of the genus Gallus". The Condor 70 (1): 56–65. doi:10.2307/1366508. http://jstor.org/stable/1366508.
5. ^ Finn, Frank (1911). The game birds of India and Asia. Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta. pp. 21–23. http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924016412631#page/n38/mode/1up.
6. ^ a b Rasmussen PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. p. 132.
7. ^ Storer, RW (1988). Type Specimens of Birds in the Collections of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. University of Michigan, Miscellaneous publications No. 174. http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/56418/1/MP174.pdf.
8. ^ a b Ali S & SD Ripley. Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 2 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 106–109.
9. ^ Anonymous (1998). "Vernacular Names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" (PDF). Buceros 3 (1): 53–109. http://www.bnhsenvis.nic.in/pdf/vol%203%20(1).pdf.
10. ^ Eriksson J, Larson G, Gunnarsson U, Bed'hom B, Tixier-Boichard M, et al. (2008). "Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken". PLoS Genetics 4 (2): e1000010. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000010.
11. ^ Morejohn, G. Victor (1968). "Breakdown of Isolation Mechanisms in Two Species of Captive Junglefowl (Gallus gallus and Gallus sonneratii)". Evolution 22 (3): 576–582. doi:10.2307/2406881. http://jstor.org/stable/2406881.
12. ^ Fumihito, Akishinonomiya ; Tetsuo Miyake, Masaru Takada, Ryosuke Shingut, Toshinori Endo, Takashi Gojobori, Norio Kondo, And Susumu Ohno (1996). "Monophyletic origin and unique dispersal patterns of domestic fowls". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 93 (13): 6792–6795. doi:10.1073/pnas.93.13.6792. PMC 39106. PMID 8692897. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/93/13/6792.pdf.
13. ^ Nishibori, M. ; Shimogiri, T. ; Hayashi, T. ; Yasue, H. (2005). "Molecular evidence for hybridization of species in the genus Gallus except for Gallus varius". Animal Genetics 36 (5): 367–375. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2005.01318.x. PMID 16167978.
14. ^ Sacci, MA; K Howes & K Venugopal (2001). "Intact EAV-HP endogenous retrovirus in Sonnerat's Jungle Fowl". Journal of Virology 75 (4): 2029–2032. doi:10.1128/JVI.75.4.2029-2032.2001. PMC 115153. PMID 11160706. http://jvi.asm.org/cgi/reprint/75/4/2029.pdf.
15. ^ Sathyakumar, S (2006). "Habitat use by Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii Temminck at Mundanthurai Plateau, Tamil Nadu". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 103 (1): 57–61.
16. ^ Wayre,P (1976). "Sonnerat's - a junglefowl threatened by fishermen". Newsl. for Birdwatchers 16 (5): 1–3. http://www.archive.org/stream/NLBW16#page/n69/mode/1up/.

Other sources

* Tehsin,Raza H (1988) Inducing sleep in birds. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 85(2):435-436.
* Chitampalli,MB (1977) Occurrence of Grey Junglefowl and Red Junglefowl together. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 74(3):527.
* Abdulali,Humayun (1957) The Grey Junglefowl in Salsette. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 54(4):946.
* Tehsin,Raza; Tehsin,Fatema (1990) Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 87(1):144.
* Morris,RC (1927) A jungle fowl problem. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 32(2):374.
* Sethna, KR (1969). "Grey Junglefowl in South India". Newsl. for Birdwatchers 9 (11): 10. http://www.archive.org/stream/NLBW9#page/n157/mode/1up.
* Ali,S (1968) The case of the Indian Grey Junglefowl. Newsl. for Birdwatchers 8(5):5-6.
* Subramanian,C; Kambarajan,P; Sathyanarayana,MC (2001) Roosting tree preference by Grey Junglefowl, (Gallus sonneratti) at Theni Forest Division, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, south India. Mor 4(February), 9:11.
* Zacharias,VJ (1993) Grey Jungle Fowl in Kerala. WPA-India News 1(1):9-10.

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