Golden pheasant, sometimes called Chinese pheasant — one of the most beautiful birds in the world. It is popular with poultry farmers because of its stunningly lustrous plumage. This pheasant is naturally found in forests and mountainous environments in western China. Golden Pheasants — they are ground birds. They forage on the ground but can fly short distances.
Origin and Description
The golden pheasant is a hardy game bird that belongs to the Galliformes species and is a small species of pheasant . Latin name for golden pheasant — Chrysolophus pictus. It is just one of 175 species or subspecies of pheasants. Its common name is — Chinese pheasant, golden pheasant or artist’s pheasant, and in captivity it is called red golden pheasant.
Initially, the golden pheasant was classified as belonging to the genus Phasianidae, which received the themological origin of the name from Phasis, the river of Colchis, present-day Georgia, where the famous common pheasants lived. The current genus of collared pheasant (Chrysolophus) comes from two ancient Greek terms “khrusos” — gold and “lophos” — crest to properly describe one of the specific characteristics of this bird and species from the Latin term “pictus” — drawn.
Video: Golden pheasant
In the wild, two-thirds of golden pheasants will not survive 6 to 10 weeks. Only 2-3% will reach three years. In the wild, their lifespan can be 5 or 6 years. They live much longer in captivity, and with proper care, 15 years — this is common, and 20 years is not unheard of. In its native China, the golden pheasant has been kept in captivity since at least the 1700s. The first record of them in captivity in America was in 1740, and according to some accounts, George Washington had several golden pheasants at Mount Vernon. In the 1990s Belgian breeders raised 3 pure lines of golden pheasant. One of them — yellow golden pheasant.
Fun fact: Legend has it that during the Golden Fleece quest, the Argonauts brought some of these golden birds to Europe 1000 BC.
Field zoologists have noticed that golden pheasants are prone to discolouration if they are exposed to the sun for long periods of time. The shaded forests they live in protect their vibrant colors.
Appearance and Features
The golden pheasant is smaller than the pheasant, although its tail is considerably longer. Male and female golden pheasants look different. Males are 90-105 centimeters long, and the tail is two-thirds of the total length. Females are slightly smaller, 60-80 centimeters long, and the tail is half the total length. Their wingspan is about 70 centimeters and they weigh about 630 grams.
Golden pheasants are one of the most popular species of all captive pheasants due to their beautiful plumage and hardy nature. Male golden pheasants are easily recognizable by their bright colors. They have a red-tipped gold crest that extends from head to neck. They have bright red underparts, dark wings, and a pale brown, long, pointed tail. Their buttocks are also golden, their upper back is green, and their eyes are bright yellow with a small black pupil. Their face, throat and chin are colored red, and their skin is yellow. The beak and feet are also yellow.
Fun fact: Male golden pheasants attract all the attention with their bright gold head and red crest, and bright scarlet chest.
Female golden pheasants are less colorful and duller than males. They have mottled brown plumage, a pale brown face, throat, chest and sides, pale yellow paws, and are more slender in appearance. Female golden pheasants have rufous brown overall plumage with dark stripes, making them almost invisible when they are incubating their eggs. The color of the belly can vary for each individual bird. Juveniles resemble a female, but they have a spotted tail that has a few red spots.
Thus, the main features of the appearance of the golden pheasant are:
- “cloak” &# 8212; brown with dark edges, which gives the bird a striped appearance;
- the upper back is green;
- the wings are dark brown and very dark bluish, and the beak is golden;
- the tail is shaded dark brown;
- eyes and paws are pale -yellow.
Where does the golden pheasant live?
Golden Pheasant — it is a brightly colored bird from central China. Some wild populations are found in the UK. This species is common in captivity, but they are often impure specimens, the result of hybridization with Lady Amherst’s pheasant. Several mutations of the golden pheasant live in captivity, with varying plumage patterns and colors. The wild type is known as the “red golden pheasant”. The species was introduced by humans to England and Scotland. The first golden pheasants were brought to Europe from China at the end of the 19th century.
The wild golden pheasant lives in the mountains of Central China and is often found in dense forests. This shy bird usually hides in dense forested areas. This behavior may be a sort of natural defense of their bright plumage. In fact, these vibrant colors can become paler if the bird is exposed to the sun for long hours during the day.
Interesting fact: The golden pheasant’s preferred habitats are dense forests and woodlands and sparse thickets.
Pheasants inhabit bamboo thickets in the foothills. Golden pheasants avoid swamps and open areas. They are surprisingly difficult to meet in mixed and coniferous forests, where they quickly run away from the detected danger. These birds live near agricultural land, appear on tea plantations and terraced fields. For most of the year, golden pheasants live alone. With the onset of spring, their behavior changes, and they begin to look for partners.
The golden pheasant lives at altitudes of no more than 1500 meters, and in winter it likes to descend along the bottom of the valleys in forests of broad-leaved trees in search of food and overcome adverse atmospheric conditions, but returns to its native territories as soon as the good season arrives. Apart from this small high-altitude migration, the golden pheasant is considered to be a sedentary species. Currently, golden pheasants are distributed in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, the United States and Canada, parts of South America, Australia and other countries.
Now you know where the golden pheasant is found. Let’s see what this bird eats.
What does the golden pheasant eat?
Golden pheasants are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. However, their non-vegetarian diet mainly consists of insects. They forage on the forest floor in search of berries, leaves, seeds, grains, fruits, and insects. These birds do not hunt in trees, but they may fly up into branches to avoid predators or to sleep at night.
Golden pheasants feed mainly on grains, invertebrates, berries, larvae and seeds, as well as other types of vegetation, such as leaves and shoots of various shrubs, bamboo and rhododendron. They often eat small beetles and spiders. During the day, the golden pheasant feeds on the ground, slowly walking and pecking. It usually feeds early in the morning and late in the evening, but can move around all day. This species probably makes limited seasonal movements to forage for food.
In Britain, the golden pheasant preys on insects and spiders, which probably make up the majority of its diet, as the plantations of coniferous trees in which it lives are deprived of undergrowth. It is also thought to consume large numbers of ants as it scratches on fallen pine bedding. He also eats grain provided by the keepers for the pheasants.
Thus, since golden pheasants move slowly while pecking across the forest floor in search of food, their diet consists of seeds, berries, grains, and other vegetation, including rhododendron and bamboo shoots, as well as grubs, spiders, and insects.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Golden Pheasants — very timid birds that hide in dark, dense forests and woodlands during the day and roost in very tall trees at night. Golden pheasants often forage on the ground despite their ability to fly, possibly because they are rather clumsy in flight. However, if they are startled, they are able to take off with a sudden, rapid upward movement with a characteristic wing sound.
Not much is known about the behavior of the golden pheasant in the wild. Despite the bright coloration of the males, these birds are difficult to spot in the dense dark coniferous forests in which they live. Best Time to Watch Golden Pheasant — very early in the morning when it can be seen in the clearings.
The vocalization of golden pheasants includes the “chak-chak” sound. Males have a special metallic call during the breeding season. In addition, during a thorough courtship display, the male spreads the feathers on his neck over his head and beak, and they are arranged like a cape.
Fun fact: Golden pheasants have a wide range of vocalizations, such as advertising , contact, alarm, which are used in a variety of situations.
The golden pheasant is not particularly aggressive towards non-competing species and is relatively easy to tame with patience. Sometimes the male can become aggressive towards his female and even kill her. Fortunately, this happens very rarely.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Reproduction and egg-laying usually take place in April. During the breeding season, the male displays and enhances his excellent plumage by posing and standing up and performing various movements in front of the female. During these shows, he spreads the feathers around his neck like a cape.
The female visits the male’s territory in response to his call. A male golden pheasant darts around and fluffs up its feathers to attract a female. If the female is unimpressed and starts to leave, the male will run around her trying to prevent her from leaving. As soon as she stops, he goes into full show mode, fanning his cape and showing off his beautiful golden ponytail until he convinces her that he — good bet.
Fun fact: Golden pheasants can live in pairs or trios. In the wild, a male may mate with multiple females. Breeders may provide them with 10 or more females depending on location and conditions.
Golden pheasant eggs are laid in April. Birds build their nest on the ground in thick bushes or tall grass. It is a shallow depression lined with plant materials. The female lays 5-12 eggs and incubates them for 22-23 days.
At hatching, the chicks are covered in a tan color from top to bottom with pale yellow stripes that are bright white underneath. Golden pheasants are early birds and can move and feed very soon. They usually follow the adults to food sources and then peck at the food on their own. Females mature faster than males and are ready to mate at one year of age. Males may be fertile at one year, but they will reach maturity at two years.
The mother takes care of the children for a month until they are completely independent, even if they are able to feed themselves from the first day of life. However, juveniles stay with their mother in family groups for several months. Incredible is the fact that they can take off just two weeks after birth, which makes them look like little quails.
Natural enemies of golden pheasants
In the UK, golden pheasants are threatened by buzzards, owls, sparrowhawks, red foxes and other mammals. A study in the UK and Austria identified nest predation by corvids, foxes, badgers and other mammals. In Sweden, golden pheasants have also been found to be preyed upon by goshawks.
Predators recorded in North America include:
- domestic dogs;
- coyotes ;
- striped skunks;
- great horned owls;
- red-tailed hawks;
- red-shouldered hawks;
- Cooper’s hawks;
- peregrine falcons;
- northern harriers;
Golden pheasants are susceptible to several nematode parasites. Other parasites also include: mites, fleas, tapeworms and lice. Golden pheasants are susceptible to Newcastle disease virus infection. Between 1994 and 2005, outbreaks of this infection in golden pheasants were reported in Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, and Italy. Birds are also susceptible to respiratory diseases caused by coronaviruses that have been found to have a high degree of genetic similarity to chicken and turkey coronaviruses.
People like golden pheasants primarily because they look cute. Because of this, they have enjoyed having them as pets for centuries, providing them with some protection. Humans prey on them to some extent, but their population is stable. The main threat of this bird — habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade. Although the golden pheasant is not at immediate risk of extinction, its populations are declining mainly due to habitat loss and overhunting.
Population and species status
Although other species of pheasant are in decline in China, the golden pheasant remains a common sight there. In Britain, the wild population is fairly stable at 1000-2000 birds. It is unlikely to spread widely because suitable habitat is found only in isolated areas and the bird is sessile.
Golden pheasants found in zoos are often hybrid offspring of Lady Amherst’s pheasants and wild golden pheasants. In captivity, the mutations have evolved into a variety of unique colors, including silver, mahogany, peach, salmon, cinnamon, and yellow. The coloration of a wild golden pheasant is called “red-gold” in the poultry industry.
The golden pheasant is not currently threatened, but deforestation, the live bird trade, and hunting for food consumption are declining somewhat, although the population appears to be stable at present. This species often hybridizes in captivity with Lady Amherst’s pheasant. In addition, several mutations involving rare pure species have been developed over the years.
The species is currently rated as “least threatened”. Although the population is on a declining trend, the decline is not sufficient to move it into the Vulnerable category under the Important Bird Areas and Biodiversity Program. The golden pheasant has a large range but is under some pressure due to deforestation.
In zoos and farms, golden pheasants live in relatively large enclosures, mostly aviaries. They need a lot of vegetation to hide and a lot of space to find food. In zoos, these birds live in aviaries along with various other species from similar regions. They are fed fruits, seeds and pelleted insectivorous birds.
Golden Pheasant — incredibly breathtaking birds with beautiful feathers and vibrant colors. Their feathers are gold, orange, yellow, green, blue and red. Females, however, lack the golden coloration that males do. Like many birds, the male golden pheasant is brightly colored while the female is dull brown. This bird, also known as the Chinese pheasant, lives in the mountain forests of western China, parts of Western Europe, North America, South America, the Falkland Islands, Australia, and New Zealand.