Red junglefowl



The red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) is one of four species in the genus Gallus. It is the wild ancestor of the domestic chicken.1 Previously, this species was reported to be found only on the island of Pulau Ubin.2 Now, there are sightings reported across Singapore in areas such as Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Ris.3

Background
All members of the Gallus genus are known as junglefowl. This genus belongs to the family Phasianidae.4 Other commonly known members of the Phasianidae include the peacock, pheasant, grouse, partridge and quail.5 The domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is descended from the red junglefowl.6 Having been domesticated for over 4,000 years, there are now 200 breeds of domestic chickens on record. Mass production of chicken eggs and meat began in the 1800s.7

Description
The adult red junglefowl is between 43 and 76 cm long.8 The head of the cock has ear-wattles and a red comb.9 The neck is yellow, with a brightly reddish back.10 The underparts are dark with grey feet,11 while the arched tail and wing feathers are a glossy green. One of the distinguishing features of a red junglefowl is the white patch at its rump.12 In Singapore and Malaysia, another distinguishing feature is the white ear-wattles. Hens are dull brown with streaked pale yellow necks and light brown vents.13 Hen tails are erect and fan-shaped. Unlike its domestic counterpart, the red junglefowl is a wary creature.14 The cock’s call is similar to the domestic chicken, though with the last note missing: a “ka ka deedl”.15 The hen’s cackle is higher in pitch than the domesticated variety.16

Reproduction
Junglefowls are polygynous with a typical family consisting of one cock with his hens and young. However, hens incubate and brood their young alone. The creamy white eggs are laid in a shallow depression scraped in the ground. A typical clutch has between five to seven eggs. Cocks begin their crowing in January, while chicks have been recorded as late as November.17 The red junglefowl may interbreed with other junglefowl species and domestic chickens.18

Diet
Junglefowls are omnivorous by nature.19 The staple diet comprises insects, especially termites and winged ants that emerge at dawn and dusk. It also rakes the ground in search of invertebrates and seeds. They forage in large parties that may consist of more than a single family group.20

Habitat and range
The red junglefowl can be found in areas with a mix of both open ground and dense vegetation.21 Such places may be around villages, plantations and the edges of towns and cities.22 It will also travel through forests to other clearings or food sources. The natural range of the species is from India eastward to southern China on the continent and down Indochina to Sumatra, Java and Bali.23

Uses
Domestic chickens are commonly raised for their eggs and meat, and feather-dusters are commonly made of chicken feathers.24 The blood of chickens is used in medicinal and mystical preparations. Black chickens are believed to have curative properties. Cock fighting used to be a popular sport worldwide.25

Variant names
Common name: red junglefowl
Scientific name: Gallus gallus26
Malay name: ayam hutan (forest chicken).27
Chinese name: yuan ji (literally “original chicken”)28



Author

Peter Pak




References

1. The new encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 4). (2002). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 908. (Call no.: R q031 NEW)
2. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
3. Chua, G. (2010, December 25). If you see this chicken, please don’t cook it. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I). London: Crown Agents, p. 1047. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR)
5. Phasianidae. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017, June 1 from Encyclopedia Britannica website: https://global.britannica.com/animal/Phasianidae
6. Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I). London: Crown Agents, p. 1047. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR); The new encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 4). (2002). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 908. (Call no.: R q031 NEW)
7. The new encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 4). (2002). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 908. (Call no.: R q031 NEW)
8. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
9. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
10. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
11. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
12. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
13. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
14. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
15. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL); Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
16. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
17. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
18. Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I). London: Crown Agents, p. 1048. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR)
19. RJF facts [Blogpost]. (n.d.). The Red Jungle Fowl in Singapore. Retrieved 2017, April 28 from National University of Singapore website: http://blog.nus.edu.sg/redjunglefowl/rjf-facts/
20. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
21. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
22.  Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
23. Wells, D. R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula (Vol. 1). San Diego, CA: Academic Press, pp. 11–12. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL)
24. The new encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 4). (2002). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 908. (Call no.: R q031 NEW); Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I), London: Crown Agents, p. 1052. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR)
25. Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I). London: Crown Agents, pp. 1048, 1050, 1052. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR)
26. Lim, K. S. (1997). Birds: An illustrated field guide to the birds of Singapore. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 LIM)
27. Burkill, I. H. (1935). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula (Vol. I). London: Crown Agents, p. 1047. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.909595 BUR)|
28. Mackinnon J., & Phillipps, K. (2000). A field guide to the birds of China. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 46. (Call no.: R 598.0951 MAC)



Further resource
Jeyarajasingam, A. (2012). A field guide to the birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

(Call no. RSING 598.095951 JEY)



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Jungle fowl--Singapore
Science and technology>>Zoology>>Birds
Red junglefowl--Singapore
Nature>>Animals
Wildlife