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Bianchi's Pheasant x Ringneck Pheasant Cross

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Scientific name: Phasianus colchicus bianchii x Phasianus colchicus subspecies

Other common names: Afghan White-winged Pheasant; Afghan White-wing Pheasant hybrid

The basics:
In the late 1940s, the United States initiated an exotic gamebird introduction program, which continued well into the 1960s. During that era, they introduced a subspecies of the Ringneck Pheasant popularly known as the Afghan White-winged Pheasant into several dry regions of the American southwest, including Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. This bird, now often called Bianchi's Pheasant, proved tough enough to adapt to some harsh conditions – and frisky enough to locate other Ringneck Pheasants to mate with. Most birds called Bianchi's Pheasants in the United States today are actually hybrids, as you can tell from the partial or sometimes even the full white ring around the neck, which would not be found in the natural subspecies direct from Afghanistan.

Appearance:
The Bianchi's Pheasant is a subspecies of the well-known Ringneck Pheasant. The pure-bred adult male has no white ringneck. He does possess a crescent of white wing coverts visible from a long distance. His rump is rust-colored, rather than gray. However, most or all birds you find will be hybrids with other Ringneck Pheasant species, so do not be surprised to see at least a partial white ring around the neck.

Average weight:
907 - 1,134 grams (2 - 2.5 lbs.)

Lifespan:
2 - 7 years

Health:
Bianchi's Pheasant hybrids are hardy birds, but any species that is bred in relatively large numbers can represent an opportunity to disease organisms. It is crucial to have a good avian veterinarian experienced with pheasants to advise you on the necessary vaccinations, preventive medications, and so on required to keep your birds in the best of health.

Behavior / temperament:
Hunters appreciate Bianchi's Pheasant hybrids because they are extremely alert and take quick action to evade predators, which gives them a longer life in the wild and also makes them better sport. However, in the captive environment, an extremely alert bird can be a nervous and skittish bird. Make sure your birds have plenty of cover and a place to retreat so that they can feel safe.

Housing:
Most Bianchi's Pheasant hybrids are being raised for reintroduction or for hunting programs. These birds will need special pens, also with plenty of space and cover, to allow them to acclimate to the weather and to develop their powers of flight. Pheasants are tasty birds, so they also need to be protected from a large number of predators, from snakes to raccoons to various hawks and eagles. It's strongly recommended that you work with a more advanced hobbyist or even a professional breeder to make sure that you're providing a good habitat for your birds. If you free range your birds, learn how from an expert, or else you may just be putting out a food table for your local raptors.

Diet:
Bianchi's Pheasant hybrids are not particularly difficult to feed. In the wild, they would forage for a rather omnivorous diet of grass, sprouts, and other vegetable matter, as well as whatever likely insects or bugs they could catch. The backbone of the captive diet is usually a high quality game bird crumble or pheasant pellet, supplemented with seeds and grains; sprouts,; chopped fruits like apples and grapes; milky seeding heads of grasses and other greens; and the usual commercially available live foods like mealworms, waxworms, and crickets. Make sure they always have a source of clean water.

Written by Elaine Radford

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