Golden Pheasant

Chrysolophus pictus

60-115cm

Appearance

This bird is smaller than the Pheasant, though its tail is significantly longer. The male is extravagant and easily distinguished; he has a golden-yellow crown, dark green upperparts, predominately red plumage on his body, a yellow rump, and blue on his wings and back. The feathers on the back of his neck are barred yellow and black and he fans them out in display. His tail is buffish with detailed spotted markings. The female lacks the male's colours. She is smaller than him and she has a much shorter tail; she is quite similar looking to a Pheasant. She has intricate black barring on her buffish-brown plumage, including on her belly. The juvenile bird is similar to the female, but the barring is less obvious and the tail is shorter.

Habitat

This bird is native to the mountains of central China. Birds that are resident in Britain live all year in dense, dark woodland, particularly where the ground is bare. It has been found in some locations in lowland areas such as the Brecklands of East Anglia.

Character

This is a timid, secretive bird that is challenging to observe in the wild. More likely to run from a predator than take flight, this bird is usually found alone or in small groups of two or three (when not nesting). Mainly solitary for majority of the year, males unite to call and display and create new territories during February; rivals can fight with ferocity.

Food

Not much is known about the diet of this bird, though in China there are records of it eating leaves, buds, insects and spiders.

Breeding

The female lays 5-12 eggs in April or May and she incubates them for about 23 days. She tends to the young, though they're able to feed themselves; they can rise from the ground at around 12-14 days, though the time of full independence is unknown.

Population

Believed to be approximately 50-100 pairs in Britain, and this small population doesn't migrate or relocate.

Observation Tips

There are gaps in knowledge about this bird, largely because it is difficult to observe and survey. February is the most common time to spot a bird; this is when males are establishing their territories.

Voice

Predominately a quiet bird, territorial males utter a shrill crowing that sounds like 'chak' or 'cha-chak'.
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