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Photo of a male Blood pheasant
Blood Pheasant. Tour by www.planetasiaexpeditions.com

It happens to birders all the time. Sometimes, a bird that everyone quickly sees can remain dipped for you for an extended period. For me, the Blood Pheasant was that bird. By the time I found this stout male in Bhutan in 2017, I had been looking for it in various parts of the Himalayas for the previous four years. I’d climbed numerous mountain peaks and slid down valleys in search of a blood pheasant, which had become a bit of a puzzle in my case.

Where to Find Blood Pheasant in Bhutan? 

I visited Bhutan in 2017 for birding. It was a 12-day itinerary covering many remote birding locations in this beautiful mountain nation. Though Bhutan has no endemic birds to boast about, birding in Bhutan is always just for birds alone. You go to Bhutan for the ambience, the scenery, the people, and, of course, for the imperial heron, if you are lucky. On the seventh day of my Bhutan trip, we drove up to the Trumshing pass (3700 metres) to


look for high-altitude birds. It was around 4 p.m., and I was exhausted and nauseous from the nonstop driving through the narrow mountain roads and the lack of sleep I had endured, possibly due to low oxygen levels in the Himalayan air. We were crossing a wooded area when the van abruptly halted. The driver asked that I remain silent in a hushed voice as if he had discovered something unusual on the road. I looked around with my sleepy eyes, but no birds were seen on the road or in the surrounding bush. I was sitting one row behind but on the opposite side, so I could see that his gaze was fixed on a boulder only 10 metres away from the van. I placed my camera on my lap and set it to trigger-ready.

A few moments later, we saw a flock of blood pheasants being led by this stout male, who appeared from behind the boulder and crossed the road like a parading military band captain. I hopped out of the van and followed them. It was a fantastic day for me.

Here are a few facts about Blood Pheasants 

The Blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus), also known as the blood partridge, is a small fowl-sized bird about 43 cm in length with red and white feathers. It is the only species in the genus Ithaginis of the pheasant family. The Blood pheasant is the state bird of the Indian state of Sikkim and is relatively common in the eastern Himalayas, which range across India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar.

Bhutan is an excellent birding destination for Himalayan birds. This beautiful Himalayan country is home to many range-restricted species, including white-bellied herons.


Special Thanks to Planet Asia Expeditions for organising a wonderful birding trip to Bhutan.