The proud male of Great argus

What does a clean ground mean to an adult male of Great argus? Everything! A clean ground means a standpoint to his existence among other males and an assurance to pass his gene.

I used to walk through the dense of lowland dipterocarp forest in Southern Sumatra, Indonesia, to search for this largest understory pheasant in Sumatra. In Indonesia, the Great argus (Argusianus argus) reside in two largest islands, Sumatra and Kalimantan. The male is so magnificent (at least to mine and William Beebe’s eyes) with secondary wing feathers longer than primaries. The loud two-note calls, kow-wow, were my alarm informing that a male was somewhere close to my stand. Skulking through the bushes, I approached the source of the calls. A large male would never let me watched him closely but left me with his dancing ground. A clean patch on the understory is his personal dancing stage. A clean one means that he enters or at the period of his breeding season. A clean one means that he proudly expresses his loud call every morning at this site to call all the females around and proudly maintained this arena everyday during his busy season. Only with his beak and by flapping his wings, he moves every fallen leaves, every twigs that fall on this arena. Then, he performs a graceful dance hoping that a nice female would like his dance and go with him.

A dancing ground is like a home to us, where we keep it clean and maintained for our own happiness. Similar to finding a suitable house, in locating a dancing ground, a male Argus needs careful thinking. At least to what I found during my research, site candidates should have smaller leaf size to make him easier in cleaning the ground. Fewer lianas are also important for site selection. Entangled lianas may restrain his dance movement. “I am a good dancer and nothing will disturb me”, that is probably his thinking.

All these proud males, however, are not perfectly live in tropical paradise. These males never placed a dancing ground on bad and disturbed sites. And available sites are limited because threats of habitat loss are daunting them, risking their survival. I am not proud at all when they become less proud because their habitat is shrinking…..


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