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Ophrysia superciliosa - Himalayan Quail (RMNH 110.049)
RMNH 110.049

Phasianidae (Pheasants)

Himalayan Quail Ophrysia superciliosa (Gray, 1846)

  • RMNH 110.049: male. Himalaya, India. Collected before 1850.

Extinct, or not?
The Asian mainland only counts three species of birds known to have become extinct in historical times. Two of these lived in the Indian subcontinent: the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea and the Himalayan Quail.

The Himalayan Quail was described in 1846 from a specimen that was kept in a Liverpool aviary. The species seems to have occurred in the foothills of the western Himalayas between Naini Tal in Kumaon and Mussooree. Most of the ten specimens preserved in museums have been collected in that area during the late 1860s, at altitudes between 1,500 and 1,800 meters. Although the last reliable observation dates back to 1876, unconfirmed sightings are still regularly reported, the most recent one dating from July 1993. It is therefore not impossible that it still survives in the vast mountain ranges of the Himalaya. However, until there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary, this quail is considered to be extinct.

Museum specimens
Only ten skins of Himalayan Quails are preserved in museums, five of which are found in the Natural History Museum at Tring. There are also specimens in Liverpool and New York. No collector, date or locality is indicated on the label of the male in Naturalis.

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