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Grey Peacock Pheasant

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Scientific name: Polyplectron bicalcaratum

Other common names: N/A

The basics:
The widespread, successful Grey Peacock Pheasant is represented by at least three (and possibly more) subspecies found in dense, humid forests in foothills and moderately high mountains, generally from around 300 to 1,600 feet. It is the national bird of Myanmar (Burma). The taxonomy of this species has been under discussion for a long time, and captive breeders have, over the years, almost certainly unintentionally hybridized the different subspecies to create a form not necessarily identical to any wild bird. However, Greys are still coveted because they are calm, naturally tame birds that love to strut and show off the beautiful “eyes” in their plumage.

Appearance:
A large, good-looking gray variation on the peacock pheasant theme, the adult male Grey boasts blue eyes with a purple shimmer ringed in successive circles of black, brown, and white on its mantle and wings. The very long, broad tail feathers carry the similarly outlined green and purple eyes near the tip. The female is much smaller and darker, and her eyes are not nearly as impressive. You will rarely have the opportunity to confuse them with another species, but since Germain's Peacock Pheasant is sometimes also found in aviculture, then be aware that the adult Greys have a crest lacking in Germain's, while Germain's have a red face compared to the Grey's more yellowish face. An interesting note: Males sometimes have as many as four spurs on one of their legs.

Average weight:
500 - 800 grams (18 - 28 oz.)

Lifespan:
7 - 12 years

Health:
The peacock pheasants including Grey Peacock Pheasant, are considered vulnerable to the diseases of domestic chickens. Therefore, you must avoid offering them any feed that may contain ground-up domestic poultry in its ingredients. You must never place them with domestic chickens. If you require a foster mother, such as a Bantam, to incubate the eggs, then this hen should be health tested first to make sure she isn't carrying any illness that might impact your peacock pheasants.

Also, newly hatched peacock pheasants, including Greys, learn to eat by having the mother place small insect items in their bill. If your Bantam doesn't do so, then guess what. The job will be up to you to feed the insect items to the baby chicks yourself with tweezers. Some breeders have successfully placed a Golden Pheasant chick or two with the peacock pheasant babies, so that the peacock pheasant babies can learn to eat by example – but of course this requires that you have Golden Pheasant chicks hatching at the same time as your Grey Peacock Pheasants, possibly a tricky proposition for the small hobbyist.

Behavior / temperament:
Many people report that their Grey Peacock Pheasants are calm, naturally tame birds that learn to eat from human hands. As with true peacocks, the males will fan the feathers and show off their beautiful “eyes” for you as well as for their mates.

Housing:
The Grey Peacock Pheasant is usually kept in pairs (or occasionally a trio of one male to two females) in a large pen or aviary roughly 150 square feet or more. They don't always tolerate the cold very well, so the night roost and winter shelter should allow you to provide warmth. These calm, easy-going birds aren't the most active of pheasants, so make sure the aviary is well designed with vegetation and a dust bathing spot to encourage them to move around a bit. Like other forest pheasants, they do appreciate shade and some protection from direct sunlight, despite their overall high tolerance of wet, humid heat.

Diet:
In the wild, Grey Peacock Pheasants 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 waterfowl or pheasant pellet, supplemented with seeds and grains; romaine and spinach; 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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