The cocky national bird of Sri Lanka

You’ll see junglefowl in the scrub jungles and rain forests of Sri Lanka.

You don’t have to be a birder to identify the Sri Lankan junglefowl (whom harrumphing colonial types insist on calling the Ceylon junglefowl) with its jaunty red comb sporting a yellow center, orange-red body, iridescent bluish-black wings and tail feathers.

Perhaps fittingly, this splendid-looking rooster’s scientific name (Gallus lafayetti) was chosen in honor of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (also known as Lafayette, the French aristocrat who served in George Washington’s Continental Army).

Though clearly proud of its plumage, the junglefowl is never far heavy cover, moving about swiftly with its high-stepping strut, scratching the leaf-strewn ground for insects, seeds and fallen fruit.

The junglefowl seems to prefer ground cover that crackles underfoot, perhaps to be given advance notice of the approach of animals or reptiles. I’ve never been able to take a really sharp picture of a junglefowl; they don’t stand still for very long.

This bird is edgy—always on hyper-alert, keeping a vigilant eye out for signs of danger. And rightly so, because hawks, snakes, mongooses, jackals, rusty spotted cats and jungle cats are just a few of the murderer’s row of predators that consider the junglefowl a tasty morsel.

Copyright © David Graham