Danphe – National Bird of Nepal, the Himalayan Monal
Danphe is the king of the Himalayan region and is a National bird of Nepal that adds so much beauty to nature. The bird is famous worldwide with its scientific name “Lophophorus impejanus“. In short, people call it ‘Lophophorus“. Also, people know it as “Himalayan Monal” worldwide.
The Danphe bird, particularly the male species, is exquisitely attractive. It’s vibrant colors, and captivating characteristics make it distinguishable even from afar.
The bird is native to the Himalayan region and can be found in various Himalayan countries.
Nepal lies in the lap of the Himalayas, and the most famous Himalayas are here. Thus, Nepal is home to the Danphe and also the National bird of Nepal.
During the Himalayan region trek, especially in the Solukhumbu district, you can see these birds. They are a common sight along the way. Lophophorus or Danphe mostly live at an altitude of 2100 to 4500.
Due to its ability to withstand extreme cold, this bird stays in the Himalayan regions. In India and neighboring countries of Nepal, people know this bird as “The Himalayan Monal.” They give it this name to recognize its unique characteristics in these regions.
Danphe represents Nepal and its people, who promote peace and embody kindness.
Geographical Distribution of Himalayan Monal / Danphe and its Nature
Danphe is a native to India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Tibet. The bird is only found in the upper regions and colder places near the Himalayan range.
Danphe birds inhabit oak-conifer forests and grassy slopes with shrubs and alpine shades. These diverse habitats provide suitable environments for their presence and survival.
Danphe birds live above 2700 meters. But, they descend to lower ranges, around 2000 meters, during peak winter seasons. This altitudinal change helps them adapt to the harsh conditions of the Himalayas.
You can spot Danphe near Everest, Langtang, Makalu, Kanchenjungha, Annapurna, and Manaslu regions in Nepal.
Danphe birds in India are native to Jammu, Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and other regions. They hold the recognition of being the state bird of Uttarakhand.
Danphe birds in Pakistan inhabit areas near Kaghan, Palas Valley, Azad Kashmir, etc.
Himalayan Monal / Danphe in Nepal
Being the National bird of Nepal, Danphes are common in the Himalayan trekking routes. It is very likely to spot this bird above the range of 2500 meters.
During summer, the bird migrates toward higher regions in search of cold weather. But, during the winter, when it gets very cold, they descend in search of warmth and food.
Hence, it is more likely to see a Danphe during the winter season as the approach towards Human habitation.
Danphe birds feed on nuts, tender leaves, insects, roots, shoots, and small invertebrates. They consume plants compared to insects due to their dietary needs. The bird has a strong beak of almost two kilograms. It can dig in the snow in search of food.
Danphe bird tends to fly away when noticing danger, demonstrating its cautious instinct. In terms of its behavior, the bird possesses a shy nature.
Male and Female Species
The adult male Danphe is a colorful attractive bird consisting of a rare color body. The color of their body is a mixture of metallic green, blue, coppery red, and white. The female on the other hand is not colorful and has light red and brownish color.
It has a white mark on its head and tail. The small or very young male has similar features to that of the female but later gains different characteristics and colors.
Coming from chicken species, the bird looks like that of a long chicken or a big pheasant. Most of these birds weigh around 2 kilograms.
It is considered that the bird has six different types both male and female. Among these three types are found in the Sagarmatha region.
These birds do not give efforts on making a nest from scratch. They instead look for small and safe holes in trees and rocks and use them as a nests for laying nest and resting.
The female Danphe lays 4 to six eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in about two months or less. They are yellow with black and brown spots all over.
The male bird carefully protects its eggs and the female one at least till all the eggs have hatched. The bird collects fresh by digging snow and then feeds the small baby birds.
Characteristics of Danphe / Himalayan Monal
During the Nepali month of Baisakh, the very first month of the Nepali calendar, the Danphe dances. This unique dance of the bird is to attract the female species.
This happens at the onset of the spring; hence locals consider it a welcome spring dance.
This quality of the bird is very similar to the peacock, giving Danphe the title ‘Himalayan Peacock’. The bird also makes a loud sound heard through the Himalayan jungles and snow.
The bird has very beautiful feathers, like that of the peacock. People like to collect these feathers, which were used as a writing tool by dipping its end in ink.
The Union of Conservation of Nature declared the Danphe bird a least-concern species. The classification of the Danphe bird as a least-concern species was based on the evaluation of its population status. This assessment indicated that the bird was not considered threatened or near threatened.
Yet, in recent years, it can be seen that the population of bird in certain areas have decreased in huge numbers. The main reason is poaching and trapping the bird for human advantage.
The bird is easy to poach when the bird is digging the snow for food. Hunters find them easy to shoot.
During winter days, Danphe birds descend toward human residence areas. This often leads to their capture by people seeking momentary entertainment and illegal benefits.
If people are found guilty of shooting or trapping Danphe, the government takes strict action against them. Such actions are considered unlawful and are subject to legal consequences.
As the national bird of Nepal, the Danphe holds significant pride in the country. And its protection is considered an essential duty for the Nepalese people.