Chinese monal -- 绿尾虹雉 (Lophophorus lhuysii)

Male Chinese monal
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Chinese monal fact file

Chinese monal description

GenusLophophorus (1)

The male Chinese monal boasts extremely showy, iridescent plumage. The head is green with a purplish, bushy crest whilst the nape of the neck is coppery-gold and the back and tail are purplish-green (2). The female is more understated in appearance with grey and reddish-brown plumage, a white back and rufous tail (2).

Faisán Monal Chino, Lofóforo Chino, Monal Coliverde.
Length: 75 – 80 cm (2)

Chinese monal biology

It is thought that these birds may have a slow reproductive rate; not breeding every year and taking several years to reach sexual maturity. Pairs are believed to be monogamous and build nests in caves or narrow cliff crevices. The clutch of three to five eggs is laid between March and June and is only incubated by the female (4).

Using their large bill, these birds dig for food on the forest floor. They take a variety of flowers, leaves, buds and even insects and small animals. During the winter large groups of monals have been recorded; some of these are thought to be bachelor groups. In winter, groups roost in the branches of rhododendron shrubs (4).


Chinese monal range

The Chinese monal is endemic to mountainous areas of southwest China (2).


Chinese monal habitat

The Chinese monal inhabits alpine and subalpine meadows and rhododendron scrub at altitudes of between 3,300 and 4,500 metres (2).


Chinese monal status

The Chinese monal is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Chinese monal threats

The Chinese monal has a small population that is slowly declining (2). Western Sichuan is the second most important timber-producing region in China and has been widely exploited as a result; furthermore, cleared forests are increasingly accessible to local people. One of the monal’s major summer food sources are the bulbs of fritillary, which is an important herb in Chinese medicine; the collection of this species may locally threaten populations of this bird. Hunting for food is also considered to be an important local threat (4).


Chinese monal conservation

The Chinese monal is protected by law in China (2) and international trade is restricted by its listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). Several reserves in the area that have been established to protect the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), also contain some populations of the Chinese monal. Valuable research has been carried out into the ecology and population densities of this species. Measures to limit the local effects of forestry management, herb collection and hunting will be needed in order to secure the future of this stunning mountain bird (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the Chinese monal see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2008)
  2. BirdLife International (August, 2003)
  3. CITES (August, 2003)
  4. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Male Chinese monal  
Male Chinese monal

© Kenneth W. Fink /

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