Any one travelling through the low-country forest is certain to hear frequently the gamey call of the jungle-cock, gallus Lafayettii, " George Joyce !" " George Joyce !" It is peculiar to Ceylon and is called in Sinhalese weli-kukul and in Tamil katu-kóli. The cock is called in these two languages weli-kukul and katu-shaval respectively.
They are very common in all the forests of the Island, from the tops of the highest hills to the sea coast, and are found in all kinds of cover, but prefer high open forest where they have a better chance of escaping from their numerous enemies, wild cats, snakes and hawks. At certain seasons they congregate in great numbers in forests where the nillu, strobilanthes, is ripe, in order to feed on the berries, at which time excellent sport may be obtained. They may often be seen on the roads especially at cart halting-places, picking up the spilt paddy and poonac. Cocks and hens are often seen together, but when the hens have chickens the cocks usually feed by themselves.
Jungle cocks are very handsome birds with glossy purple-black backs and arched golden-red tails. Their big upright red combs are often covered with ticks. They are very pugnacious and fight fiercely with their long sharp spurs. They will readily accept the challenge of any domestic cock- The hens are dowdy little brown birds and do not look like the mates of such gorgeous creatures as the cocks. They feed about scratching vigorously and uttering sharp metallic clucks. When come on suddenly both cocks and hens usually fly off making a great outcry. They never go far on the wing and generally take refuge in a tree if flushed by dogs, in which case they may easily be shot if approached carefully. They are fast runners.
Should a cock be heard crowing inside the forest near the road or any open place it may often be induced to come out by imitating the flapping of wings by slapping one's leg very quickly. The cock thinking it to be some rival will usually rush out at once to give battle, with drooping wings, head low and neck feathers erect, when it may be shot with ease.
They roost in trees during the night. Unlike domestic birds they never crow at night. The hens lay from two to four creamy-white eggs very like ordinary fowl eggs, generally in a sort of rough grass-nest under a tree or bush, but occasionally in hollows of trees at a considerable distance from the ground. Fowls which are obviously cross-breeds between the jungle and domestic varieties may often be seen in the villages. Many attempts have been made to rear jungle fowl but with little success. The natives often catch them with ingenious springes set in the jungle paths. The flesh has a gamey flavour quite distinct from that of the domestic fowl. Some people will not eat of jungle fowl shot near villages because they are such unclean feeders, but the habits of these birds in this respect are no worse than those of ordinary native poultry.