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Siamese Fireback Pheasant

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Scientific name: Lophura diardi

Other common names: Siamese Fireback; Diard's Fireback; Diard's Crested Fireback; Siamese Pheasant; Siamese Crested Fireback

The basics:
The Siamese Fireback, the national bird of Thailand, is a splendid pheasant once regarded as the “easiest” fireback to keep in captivity, but its popularity in American aviculture seems to have declined in recent years, and it may be on its way to becoming a forgotten gem. Fortunately, the wild bird seems to be doing well. Evolved as a bird of the thick evergreen and bamboo forests of lowlands, foothills, and even into the mountains, the Siamese Fireback appears to be extremely adaptable, and it has survived the loggers that have deforested so much of the region. “Resilient” is the label applied to this recovering species, but it's always worth keeping an eye on the situation.

Appearance:
The adult male Siamese Fireback is a dapper specimen decked out in shades of red, gray, white, and black. The bright red face is accented by a small black crest, but the bird's real ornament is the glossy black tail. The female is an interesting bird in her own right – a brown body but with white and black barred wings and central tail feathers. Both sexes have red faces and red legs, although the female's red face is not as extensive as her mate's.

Average weight:
2 - 3 kilograms (4.4 - 6.6 lbs.)

Lifespan:
5 - 10 year

Health:
While Siamese Firebacks are not hothouse flowers, you need to take extra care to keep them warm but not overheated by the sun and also to protect them from contagious diseases. If you use a Bantam or another foster mother to incubate the eggs, make sure that she has been checked by a vet first. You will definitely 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:
Siamese Firebacks are regarded as easily tamed, confident birds who adapt readily to a well-designed aviary. The male can demonstrate some of the breeding aggression that you see with any pheasant, and both male and female need to be out of direct sunlight, so plant the aviary with plenty of greenery both for cover and for shade.

Housing:
Unlike some of the other popular Lophura pheasants, the tropical Siamese Fireback is sensitive to the cold and will require a heated winter shelter. They also seem to be sensitive to direct sunlight. Breeders recommend that you keep this species in pairs, but you will need to provide a large, well-planted aviary with plenty of cover for the female to escape from the male's attentions when he gets too bothersome. Allow at least 150 square feet for the aviary.

Diet:
Siamese Firebacks 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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