The Golden Pheasant
or "Chinese Pheasant
Chinese Pheasant can refer to any pheasant species originally native to China.Usually it means either:* the Common Pheasant which including the Ring-necked Pheasants. This usage is most common in the USA where the bird is widely naturalized.* the Golden Pheasant...
, (Chrysolophus pictus
) is a gamebird of the order Galliformes
Galliformes are an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding domestic or game bird, containing turkey, grouse, chicken, New and Old World Quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, and the Cracidae. Common names are gamefowl or gamebirds, landfowl, gallinaceous birds or galliforms...
(gallinaceous birds) and the family Phasianidae
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and partridges, including the junglefowl , Old World Quail, francolins, monals and peafowl. The family is a large one, and is occasionally broken up into two subfamilies, the Phasianinae, and the Perdicinae...
. It is native to forests in mountainous areas of western China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...
but feral populations have been established in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
The adult male is 90–105 cm in length, its tail accounting for two-thirds of the total length. It is unmistakable with its golden crest and 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.
Males have a golden-yellow crest with a hint of red at the tip. 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 colour. The tertiaries are blue whereas the scapulars 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. Lower legs and feet are a dull yellow.
The female (hen) is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...
similar to that of the female Common Pheasant
The Common Pheasant , is a bird in the pheasant family . It is native to Georgia and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird. In parts of its range, namely in places where none of its relatives occur such as in Europe , it is simply known as the "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 throat. Some abnormal females may later in their lifetime get some male plumage. Lower legs and feet are a dull yellow.
Both males and females have yellow legs and yellow bills.
Despite the male's showy appearance, these hardy birds are very difficult to see in their natural habitat
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...
, which is dense, dark young conifer forests with sparse undergrowth. Consequently, little is known of their behaviour in the wild.
They feed on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...
s, but roost in trees at night. While they can fly, they prefer to run: but if startled they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive wing sound.
Although they can fly in short bursts they are quite clumsy in flight and spend most of their time on the ground. Golden Pheasants lay 8-12 eggs at a time and will then incubate these for around 22–23 days. They tend to eat berries, grubs, seeds and other types of vegetation
Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader...
The male has a metallic call in the breeding season.
The Golden Pheasant is commonly found in zoos and aviaries, but often as impure specimens that have the similar Lady Amherst's Pheasant
The Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Chrysolophus amherstiae, is a bird of the order Galliformes and the family Phasianidae.These are native to south western China and Myanmar, but have been introduced elsewhere, and have established a self-supporting, but now declining, feral population in England, the...
in their lineage. The birds illustrated herein are typical. For example, one picture below shows subtle signs of a hybrid in the dark face, and in the yellow extending into what should be a pure dark red flank (where in the Amherst, the white flank would meet the green breast feathers in this area).
There are also different mutations of the Golden Pheasant known from birds in captivity, including the Dark-throated, Yellow, Cinnamon, Salmon, Peach, Splash, Mahogony and Silver. In aviculture, the wild type is referred to as "Red Golden" to differentiate it from these mutations.