email a friend
printable version
Bulwer's Pheasant Lophura bulweri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This pheasant is classified as Vulnerable because it is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to extensive and on-going habitat loss, compounded by hunting. It is also assumed to have a small population, which is likely to be experiencing increasingly severe fragmentation, particularly as it may be dependent on nomadic visits to lowland areas.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Lobiophasis bulweri BirdLife International (2001), Lobiophasis bulweri BirdLife International (2004)

Male 77-80 cm, female c.55 cm. Blackish-plumaged pheasant with bushy, gleaming white tail (male). Blue facial skin and wattles, red legs and indistinct bluish spotting to tips of upperpart feathers. Female smaller and darkish rufous-brown in colour with dull bluish facial skin and red legs. Similar spp. Female Crested Fireback L. ignita has tufted crest, prominently white-scaled underparts and pale legs. Voice Territorial call shrill, piercing cry, also utters kak alarm notes and penetrating, rather metallic kook!, kook!

Distribution and population
Lophura bulweri is endemic to Borneo, where it is known from Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, Kalimantan, Indonesia and Brunei. Although apparently rather patchily distributed, it was once described as very common in undisturbed parts of interior Borneo. In 1995, it was estimated to number fewer than 10,000 individuals. Despite there being no reason to believe that the species was threatened a decade ago, the paucity of recent records, combined with anecdotal information regarding its habits and alarming current rates of habitat loss, indicate that it may be declining rapidly.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-10,000 individuals by McGowan and Garson (1995). It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals here, equating to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be undergoing a rapid population decline owing to the loss and fragmentation of its forest habitat, although it is mainly restricted to relatively less threatened hill forest, with the possibility that the rate of decline is slower than this (B. van Balen in litt. 2012), necessitating further research.

It inhabits primary hill and lower montane forest, from c.300 m up to at least 1,500 m, and at least occasionally down to c.150 m. Limited field evidence suggests that the species is nomadic. It may rely on lowland forest masting events, resulting in feeding concentrations, after which it breeds, later moving back up into the hills. It may not appear again in the same area for years.

Forest loss, degradation and fragmentation, through large-scale commercial logging, widespread clearance for plantations of rubber and oil-palm, and extensive recent fires pose the primary threats, compounded more locally by hunting for food. If, as suggested, it is dependent on lowland masting events, highways and clearings through mountains and across the lowlands may have cut off potential access routes to important feeding areas, which in turn may be undermining its breeding capacity.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is afforded protection under Indonesian law and is a protected species in Sarawak, Malaysia. It has recently been recorded in at least six protected areas including Kayan Mentarang National Park (Rowden 2001a), Bukit Raya National Park (Kalimantan), Gunung Mulu and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (Sarawak) and the Danum Valley Conservation Area (Sabah).  Captive breeding birds, usually kept in monogamous pairs, do exist, with 20 individuals registered in 2001.  These, however, enjoy only sporadic breeding success, perhaps in part due to the social structure in which they are kept (Rowden 2001b)
Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify and record its vocalisations to aid field surveys. Conduct extensive field surveys to assess its distribution, status and ecological requirements (focussing particularly on whether it is nomadic and reliant on masting events). Promote prohibition of hunting by those living or working within logging concessions. Promote the concept of Forest Management Units in Sabah (99-year concessions of great size). Assist forest managers in habitat identification and zoning of concession areas. Support the proposed extension of Bukit Raya National Park, and establishment of further protected areas found to hold populations.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Keane, A.M.; Garson, P.J.; McGowan, P.J. K. in press. Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 2005-2009. IUCN and WPA, Gland, Switzerland.

McGowan, P. J. K.; Garson, P. J. 1995. Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 1995-1999. International Union for Nature Conservation and Natural Resources and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland.

Rowden, J. 2001. Studies of Bulwer's wattled pheasant Lophura bulweri in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Proceedings of the 2nd. International Galliformes Symposium, Kathmandu: 120-124.

Rowden, John. 2001. Behavior of captive Bulwer"s wattled pheasants, Lophura bulweri (Galliformes: Phasianidae). Zoo Biology 20(1): 15-25.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Keane, A., Taylor, J.

Davison, G., Rowden, J., van Balen, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Lophura bulweri. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Bulwer’s pheasant (Lophura bulweri) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Sharpe, 1874)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 275,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species