Temporarily Off Exhibit
Formerly called Ceylon junglefowl, the Sri Lanka junglefowl is the national bird of Sri Lanka. It appears on postage stamps there.
What They Eat
The Sri Lanka junglefowl is an omnivore. Its diet includes grass seeds, seed pods, berries, flower petals, and a variety of small invertebrates including termites, ants, beetles, ticks, centipedes, grasshoppers and mollusks. When eating, it scratches and pecks at the ground like a domestic chicken.
Where They Live
This bird is found only in Sri Lanka – the island nation off of the southeast tip of India. It lives in a variety of habitats between sea level and 6,500 feet elevation, including dry forest, coastal scrub, damp mountain forest and tea plantations.
What They Do
Junglefowl are terrestrial birds, spending much of their time on the ground. They will fly short distances and will roost overnight in trees and clumps of bamboo. Nests are often on the ground, but can also be found in low trees, on tree stumps, or in abandoned crow and squirrel nests.
How They’re Doing
Sri Lanka junglefowl are common and are not considered threatened. The population is thought to be stable.
- Female Sri Lanka junglefowl are drab in color and smaller than males. Females lack a fleshy comb and wattles, but have a small crest at the base of the beak. The wattles and comb of the male Sri Lanka junglefowl are bright red. There is a distinctive yellow patch in the center of his comb. During summer (following typical breeding time), his comb will be reduced in size.
- The Sri Lanka junglefowl is the only species of junglefowl to have a yellow iris.
- Junglefowl can mate year-round, but peak mating periods are between February and May. A typical nest contains 2 – 4 pale, cream eggs.
- To attract a mate, male Sri Lanka junglefowl will sometimes fight with rivals and strut near females.
- Sri Lanka junglefowl make a high-pitched, rooster-like, crowing call at dawn, which is thought to help define a territory. They also make a foraging call that sounds like “kreeu, kreeu, kreeuu.”
- By flapping their wings, Sri Lanka junglefowl sometimes make a loud clapping sound.
- Sri Lanka junglefowl are mostly nonsocial; however, they can be seen in loose groups of 2 – 6 individuals.
- Sri Lanka junglefowl are commonly seen foraging in early morning, evening and after rains. They avoid the midday heat, and tend to stick near areas that provide cover. If a hen with chicks senses danger, she will give an alarm call and her chicks will scatter for cover under nearby plants.
- Domestic chickens have been known to interbreed with Sri Lanka junglefowl.
The Sri Lanka junglefowl is numerous and the population is thought to be stable. It survives well among human disturbance and habitat changes. The greatest threat to its survival are natural predators, which include mongoose and jungle cat; additionally, ticks can cause death. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists this species as being a “least concern” for extinction.