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Mikado Pheasant

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Scientific name: Syrmaticus mikado

Other common names: Taiwan Long-Tailed Pheasant

The basics:
The striking Mikado Pheasant is endemic to the island of Taiwan, where they are found in the interior mountain forest at elevations as high as 10,000 feet. While they are protected within the boundaries of Yushan National Park, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has rated them as “near threatened” due to the fact that they are hunted for food and have lost substantial habitat outside of the park.

These spectacular birds are rather new to aviculture, since they were first described as a separate species in 1906 and then imported as live specimens into England in 1912. Therefore, they haven't been as well known in captivity as their relatives in the Long-Tailed Pheasant genus, Elliot's and Reeves's Pheasants. However, at least one breeder suggests that they're not as bad-tempered as those two species, so they may be well worth seeking out if you want the beauty of an extra-long tail without all of the psychological drama.

Appearance:
The adult male Mikado Pheasant is a true “wow” bird – a deep black pheasant with an extremely long tail barred with white. Be cautious with the more modestly patterned brown female, to be sure you don't confuse her with the females of other Syrmaticus species. To avoid inadvertently hybridizing your birds, check the throat. An Elliot's Pheasant female has a dark throat. A Mikado's Pheasant female has a whitish throat. A Reeves's Pheasant female has a yellowish throat.

Average weight:
700 - 1000 grams (25 - 35 oz.)

Lifespan:
7 - 12 years

Health:
Thanks to its high altitude heritage, Mikado Pheasant has a reputation for being a hardy, adaptable bird. Nonetheless, you will want 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:
The Mikado Pheasant is kept for its looks, not its personality, but it may possess a more pleasant temper than some of the other Syrmaticus males. Always be watchful for potential aggression, but a well-planted, well-planned aviary with plenty of cover for the females may help you avoid problems. They can and will hybridize with other pheasants, so don't place them in a situation that will allow them to do so.

Housing:
These high altitude forest birds are tough, with reports that they can tolerate extremes of temperature and even snowfall. That said, thanks to their long tails and their polygynous habits, the Mikado Pheasant demands a large aviary or pen, at least 250 square feet, that can accommodate the male and several females. The dust bathing area should be kept dry and free of mud, and there should be at least a basic shelter to protect from direct sunlight, wind, and damp. Some portion of the aviary should be heavily planted, to provide cover for females tired of the male's attentions and also as a natural sunshade.

Diet:
In the wild, Mikado 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 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. They have been singled out as a species that truly enjoys green food, so don't deny them plenty of fresh romaine, chickweed, and other tasty lettuces and greens. Make sure they always have a source of clean water.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

fine looking bird, great addition

challenging

small children

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