Tragopan satyrasatyr tragopan

Geographic Range

Satyr tragopans are found in the central and eastern parts of the Himalayas (Harper, 1986). For the most part, they are the only tragopan in Bhutan and Nepal (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (Harper, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)


Satyr tragopans are quite hardy, and live in mountainous regions (Harper, 1986) from approximately 2400 to 3700 m and sometimes up to 4300 m (Johnsgard, 1986). They are found at lower elevations in the western part of their range (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Satyr tragopans are found in chilly, damp areas (van der Mark, 1962) or in dry temperate coniferous forests (Johnsgard, 1986). They are found in oak forests with an understory of bamboo and rhododendron or mixed conifer and deciduous forests (Madge and McGowan, 2002). They are also found in rocky areas or gorges with small flowing streams, undergrowth of lilac, primrose, violets, strawberry, and forget-me-nots may be present (Johnsgard, 1986). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002; van der Mark, 1962)

  • Range elevation
    2400 to 4300 m
    7874.02 to 14107.61 ft

Physical Description

Males are approximately 71 cm in length, and females are approximately 61 cm long (Harper, 1986). For males, wing length ranges from 245 to 285 mm, and tail length ranges from 250 to 345 mm. Female wing length and tail length measure 215 to 245 mm and 195 mm, respectively (Johnsgard, 1986).

The males are bronze-like to burnt-orangish (van der Mark, 1962) to orange-crimson (Johnsgard, 1986) in their neck, breast, and abdomen, and their backs are a darkish brown with a lighter brown mottling. The breast may be crimson (van der Mark, 1962). They have overall spotting from just below the neck; the spots are white encircled with black. Their heads have a black, sickle-shaped marking on both cheeks from the neck to the back of the eye back toward the neck (Harper, 1986). They have a bluish face (Johnsgard, 1986). The chin is blue to almost black and may blend in with the sickle-shaped marking. There is also a thin black necklace which partially extends around the throat (Harper, 1986). The shoulders are crimson, and the primaries are deep brown with buff mottling. Under the tail, the feathers are crimson with white spots encircled with brown, with black fringing on the ends. The lower back, rump and shorter tail coverts are olive-brown with the same spotting, and the longer tail coverts are amber-brown. The legs are pinkish to greyish-white and the beak is black. Two alula quills are present that are chestnut with dark brown mottling on the inner tips. Horns and orbital skin are a brilliant blue. The lappet (or gular wattle) is also a brilliant blue, and when extended, four to five triagular-shaped patches of brilliant scarlet on bright sage green edging are shown (Johnsgard, 1986).

The females are an overall brown (van der Mark, 1962) with ochre streaking and blackish blotching. The tail is a rufous-brown with broken buff and black barring. The outer tail feathers are barred. Underneath, the overall coloration is similar to males, but is paler. In some females, a grey tint may be present overall. The legs are a fleshy greyish-brown, and the beak is a brownish color (Johnsgard, 1986).

After four months, young males have a black bar on their tail feathers and sporadically placed orange-red feathers on their throat (van der Mark, 1962). Usually, immature males will not develop full adult plumage until their second year and will not be able to breed until this time (Johnsgard, 1986). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; van der Mark, 1962)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • ornamentation
  • Range mass
    1000 to 2100 g
    35.24 to 74.01 oz
  • Range length
    61 to 71 cm
    24.02 to 27.95 in


Males will adopt two distinct displays during courtship. The lateral display is such that the male shows one side of himself to the female with the wing closest to her lowered and the other wing raised. He is stretched flat so that he looks as though he is pressed against a wall. The frontal display is especially spectacular. The male faces the female from about 1 m away, crouches down slightly, ruffles his feathers, spreads his wings, and flaps his wings deliberately on the ground. He nods his head, repeating this with increasing speed. His horns become inflated, his lappet is revealed, and the bird increasingly quivers and rustles his feathers. He also makes a clacking sound. Once the lappet has been fully extended, the male will stop his display, move closer to the female and continue to show her his lappet. He then relaxes and the horns and lappet deflate. Sometimes, the male will start with a forward run, then expose the lappet after spreading the breast and flank feathers. This display occurs after the female has been attracted to the male by his wail call. (Johnsgard, 1986)

Breeding occurs from May to June, although some birds may not breed until July at higher elevations (Johnsgard, 1986).

The nest is made of sticks and twigs (Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002) and is built off the ground in trees and shrubs (Harper, 1986) at an elevation of 6 m or more (Madge and McGowan, 2002). It is well concealed from view (Johnsgard, 1986).

In the wild, a typical clutch is two to three eggs (Madge and McGowan, 2002). In captivity, the hen will lay four to six (Madge and McGowan, 2002) and sometimes as many as eight eggs (van der Mark, 1962; Harper, 1986). The buff-colored eggs have reddish-brown dots or blotches (van der Mark, 1962; Harper, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002). The eggs measure 65 by 42 mm and weigh an average of 63.3 g (Johnsgard, 1986). Incubation time is twenty-eight days (van der Mark, 1962; Harper, 1986).

The precocial chicks may be rufous brown, pale buff, and dark rufous brown (van der Mark, 1962). They can survive without food for 2 days after hatching. After two or three days, the chicks are able to fly and perch. The young remain with the mother for their first year (Johnsgard, 1986) and reach sexual maturity in 2 years. (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002; van der Mark, 1962)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from May to June, although some birds may not breed until July at higher elevations.
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 3
  • Average time to hatching
    28 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Young satyr tragopans are precocial and can survive without food for 2 days after hatching. After two or three days, the chicks are able to fly and perch; they also huddle under the mother satyr tragopan's wings. Young remain with their mother for their first year (Johnsgard, 1986). (Johnsgard, 1986)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • precocial
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence


We do not have information on lifespan/logevity for this species at this time.


These birds are more dependent on flight than other tragopans. They also like to perch (Harper, 1986). Satyr tragopans will migrate up and down the slope of the Himalayas, wintering 1000 to 2000 m lower in elevation than they ordinarily live during the breeding season (Johnsgard, 1986).

Satyr tragopans are unobtrusive birds, they are often hidden and difficult to see in their natural habitat. Even when flushed, the birds will quickly fly into nearby branches and disappear from view. During the summer, they are found in pairs. During the post-breeding season, they may be found in small groups. At other times of the year, they may be solitary (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

Home Range

We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

The call of the male is a wail uttered as "wah waah oo-ah oo-aaaaa," becoming louder as the call progresses. The call is repeated 12 to 14 times. It is usually uttered during sunrise and may last around 30 minutes (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Prior to the wail, a one-note "bleat" call may be uttered. During the spring or fall, a "wah wah" call is uttered by both females and males and may function in courtship. An alarm "wak wak" call is uttered by females and males when they are flushed from cover (Johnsgard, 1986).

Males have elaborate displays that they use to attract females during the breeding season (see Mating Systems). (Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

Food Habits

These tragopans eat insects, a lot of green vegetation, berries, and other fruit (van der Mark, 1962; Harper, 1986). Satyr tragopans especially like the petals, buds and leaves (Madge and McGowan, 2002) of plants such as the paper laurel, rhododendrons, ferns, daphne, and bastard cinnamon (Johnsgard, 1986). They also eat bamboo shoots, rhododendron seeds and bulbs from the onion family. The insects they eat include earwigs, ants and cockroaches. They will also consume invertebrates such as spiders and centipedes. In captivity, these tragopans eat fruits and berries almost exclusively (Johnsgard, 1986).

When in a feeding area, satyr tragopans will forage during the early morning and late afternoon. On cloudy days, they may feed more often. They are found at the edge of the forest or deep in the undergrowth. They scratch in a few localized spots rather than covering a larger area (Johnsgard, 1986). Snowfall may dictate this tragopan's movements (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002; van der Mark, 1962)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Large cats such as leopards (subfamily Pantherinae) and civets (family Viverridae) as well as foxes (family Canidae) are considered to be important predators (Johnsgard, 1986). (Johnsgard, 1986)

Ecosystem Roles

Satyr tragopans have an impact on the plants and prey they eat and are an important food source for their predators.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Satyr tragopans have been bred in captivity and may be found in some aviaries. They are also hunted for food.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of satyr tragopans on humans.

Conservation Status

These birds are considered to be near-threatened (they are close to qualifying for vulnerable status according to the IUCN) (BirdLife International Red List Authority, 2000). They are also listed under Appendix III by CITES. Their populations are fragmented and affected by habitat loss as a result of overgrazing and removal of materials used as fuel for fire (Madge and McGowan, 2002). They are also threatened by hunting (Johnsgard, 1986). They are protected in some areas of their range (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (BirdLife International Red List Authority, 2000; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

Other Comments

Temminck's tragopans are the closest relatives to satyr tragopans. Western tragopans are also considered to be closely related (Johnsgard, 1986). (Johnsgard, 1986)


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


BirdLife International Red List Authority, 2000. "The 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed 03/09/04 at

Harper, D. 1986. Pet Birds for Home and Garden. London: Salamander Books Ltd.

Johnsgard, P. 1986. The Pheasants of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.

van der Mark, R. 1962. Tragopans: miraculous birds. Avicultural Magazine, 68(1): 20-22.