Pheasants or Chinese Pheasants (Chrysolophus
pictus) are native to forests in mountainous areas of western China.
However, feral populations of these gamebirds have established themselves in
Florida, USA, United Kingdom and elsewhere.
captivity, the wild form of the Golden is often referred to as the Red
The males of these
species are one of the most brilliantly colored of all birds. Golden Pheasants
are commonly found in zoos and private collections, although frequently they
have been crossed with the similar Lady Amherst's Pheasants.
Many of the color mutations of this breed in
existence today are believed to originate from crosses between Amherst and
Goldens. It is very difficult to find birds that are completely pure
representatives of this species.
lifespan of Golden Pheasants is 5 - 6 years; however, captive birds that are
well taken care of could live 15 or even 20 years.
The adult male is about 40 inches (~100 cm) in
length, with his tail accounting for two-thirds of the total length.
This is an unmistakable pheasant, with a
golden-yellow crest with a hint of red at the tip, a golden rump and bright
red body. The deep orange "cape" can be spread in display, appearing
as an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the face except its
bright yellow eye,with a pinpoint black pupil.
The face, throat, chin, and the sides of neck are
rusty tan. The wattles and orbital skin are both yellow in colour, and the
ruff or cape is light orange. The upper back is green and the rest of the back
and rump are golden-yellow in color. The tertiaries are blue whereas the
scapulars (shoulder feathers) are dark red. Another characteristic of the male
plumage is the central tail feathers which are black spotted with cinnamon as
well as the tip of the tail being a cinnamon buff. The upper tail coverts are
the same colour as the central tail feathers. Males also have a scarlet
breast, and scarlet and light chestnut flanks and underparts.
The female (hen) is much less showy, with a duller
mottled brown plumage similar to that of the female Common Pheasant. She is darker and more
slender than the hen of that species, with a proportionately longer tail (half
her 60-80 cm length). The female's breast and sides are barred buff and
blackish brown, and the abdomen is plain buff. She has a buff face and
Both males and females have yellow
legs and yellow bills.
Their natural habitats are dark young conifer
forests with sparse undergrowth.
on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrates (= animals without internal
skeleton, such as insects, larvae, earthworms, millipedes, snails, spiders),
but roost in trees at night. Whilst they can fly, they prefer to run: but if
startled they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive
Although they can fly in short
bursts they are quite clumsy in flight and spend most of their time on the
Keeping and Breeding the
Relevant Web Resources
Pheasant General Information ... Pheasant Species / Pheasant Taxonomy ... Breeding Pheasants ... Pheasant Photo Gallery ... Housing Pheasants ... Pheasant Diseases
Research by Sibylle Johnson
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