Golden Pheasant

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Scientific name: Chrysolophus pictus

Other common names: Chinese Pheasant; Painted Pheasant; Red Golden Pheasant

The basics:
The beloved Golden Pheasant is endemic to China, where this splendid bird of the mountain forest must conceal itself from hunters in deep cover, since it's a relatively poor flyer. Although seldom seen in the wild, it has long been counted among the most popular pheasant species ever kept in captivity. It looks rare and delicate, yet it's actually hardy and easy to care for, making it a highly recommended species even to beginners with gamebirds.

Dan Cowell at Gamebirds and Waterfowl, says, “The Golden has been kept in captivity since as early as 1740 and perhaps was the first type of pheasant brought to North America. There is evidence that George Washington may have kept them at Mt. Vernon!” The Golden Pheasant is also sometimes identified as the inspiration behind the story of the phoenix, the mythical bird that can live for 500 years. They were introduced to the United Kingdom in the 19th century, with the first wild breeding around 1870, and a small population of around 100 pairs still lives there today."

The natural wild form of the male Golden Pheasant, sometimes called the Red Golden Pheasant, is one of the most beautiful birds in existence, and it cannot be confused with any other species. You immediately notice the golden crest and rump, which contrast nicely with the mostly red-plumaged body and long, black-spotted central tail feathers. To display to females, keepers, or to the world at large, the proud male can spread his beautiful cape of orange feathers, each one of which is tipped in a neat blue-black. This cape is called a ruff, and it qualifies the Golden Pheasant for its place in the Chrysolophus --”Ruffed Pheasant”-- genus. The female is substantially more subdued. However, both sexes have golden beaks and feet, which can be an important field mark.

As with many other species with a long history in aviculture, breeders have developed color mutations of the Golden Pheasant. The Yellow Golden, also known as the Ghigi or Ghigi's Golden, replaces golden plumage where the red is found in the natural wild form, resulting in a truly exquisite bird. A cinnamon mutation is also widely available.

One twist is that the Golden Pheasant is easily hybridized with another Ruffed Pheasant, theLady Amherst's Pheasant, and there were undoubtedly many intentional or unintentional hybrids created in bygone days. If your goal is to become a serious breeder of exhibition worthy stock, you will need to be careful about where you obtain your birds in order to avoid obtaining hybrids. The legs and feet should be yellow in both sexes and at all ages. In a male, check for out of place red feathers in the crest or rump, or out of place green feathers on the breast. In a female, check that the crown is yellow tinged, not red tinged.

Average weight:
1.1 - 1.6 kilograms (2.5 - 3.5 lbs.)

7 - 12 years

Golden Pheasants have a great reputation for hardiness, but since they can't resist spending time the ground, you will need a good veterinarian to advise you on the best schedule to keep them de-wormed.

Behavior / temperament:
The Golden Pheasant is a perennial favorite because of its personality as well as its plumage. Although a shade-loving species, it will not hide its light under a bushel in an aviary where it feels safe from hunters and predators. Indeed, the male will be pleased to display for you as well as for his females. Yet, despite his tendency to show off, he doesn't tend to be overly aggressive toward non-competing birds like exotic pigeons, making these birds a fine choice for the mixed species exhibit. If you can have only one aviary and one pheasant species, the Golden Pheasant is often regarded as the bird of choice.

As a smaller pheasant, Golden Pheasants can do well in a pen or aviary of about 150 square feet, but bigger is always better to show the splendid tail to full advantage. They can also do well in mixed species aviaries with other non-competing birds, but don't place them with other pheasants, particularly the Lady Amherst's. The proud males love to display to and to court more than one female, and if you keep only a pair or a trio, he may harass the hens a bit too much. Many breeders advise keeping at least three females per male. This species, including the mutations, simply can't tolerate lots of direct sunlight. They need a well-planted aviary with plenty of shade, or their splendid plumage will fade. They are, however, much tougher and more cold hardy than many other species.

Like many other birds with a long history in aviculture that dates back to before the days of modern diets, the Golden Pheasant is pretty easy 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, 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


colors, beautiful birds, hobby bird farm, brilliant plumage, long tail


shade, high price, vet bills, aggressive, Exhausting Experience, dark shelter


ground tray, hand feeding trough

Golden Pheasant Behavior Tip

Golden Pheasant

From WaleedMirza Oct 6 2013 12:22PM


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