Have you ever seen a bird with feathers that shine like gold and colors that look like they’ve been painted by an artist? That’s what the golden pheasant looks like. But there’s more to this bird than just its beauty. So, buckle up and get ready to discover the incredible facts about this stunning species.
1. They are colorful birds
The golden pheasant, also known as the Chinese pheasant or painter pheasant, is one of the most colorful birds in the world. The males of this species are known for their flamboyant appearance, coming with a golden crest with a red tip that runs from their heads down to their necks. An orange and azure barred cape, or a ruff, extends from beneath the rear of their crest across the mantle.
In addition to the colorful look, male yellow pheasants feature golden rumps, brilliant red underparts, green upper backs, and bright yellow eyes with a little black pupil. Their orbital skin, beak, wattles, legs, and feet are all in yellow color. This is why these Chinese species are called golden pheasants.
The animals have dark wings, a rust-colored face, chin, and throat, and a long, barred tail that is pale brown.
In contrast to their male counterparts, females exhibit less vibrant colors and are more subdued in appearance. Their plumage is mostly a medium to golden brown with heavy black barring. However, their underparts are less heavily barred, with a light buff color around the lower belly. These females don’t have a cape or crest.
Juvenile birds resemble adult females but with less barring, and both adult females and juveniles have brown eyes.
Males are larger than females, with a size between 90 and 105 centimeters in length, while females are around 60 to 80 centimeters long. The majority of the golden pheasant’s length is made up of its magnificent tail, which accounts for two-thirds of its total length. They have a wingspan of 70 centimeters in length.
The golden pheasant comes from China. It was introduced to various regions of the world, including Europe, Australia, North and South America, and New Zealand.
Of all the introduced locations, England has seen the most successful establishment of the species. They now primarily inhabit the pine forests of Suffolk and Norfolk in eastern England, with an estimated population of up to one hundred breeding pairs. The populations in other parts of the world are considerably smaller.
These species can be found in thick, dark forests (conifer forests) and woodlands with minimal undergrowth in mountainous regions. These habitats shield their striking colors from bleaching, which may occur if they are exposed to the sun for a long time.
3. They prefer staying on the ground to flying
The colorful pheasant birds are not very aggressive, they’re quite shy. You can’t usually see them because these birds tend to seek refuge in dark and dense forests and woodlands during the day to look for food. At night, they roost in high trees.
Despite being capable of flying, they often forage on the ground, possibly due to their limited ability to fly for extended periods and their clumsiness in the air. These birds are primarily terrestrial and spend the majority of their time on the forest floor. However, they are capable of short, fast bursts of flight when needed.
These birds are also known for their unique sounds. They can make a ‘chack chack’ sound, while males have a unique metallic call in the mating season.
These birds are omnivorous. They eat various plant-based food, including seeds, plant shoots, leaves, grain, buds, berries, and even the shoots of bamboo and rhododendron. In addition to vegetation, they also hunt invertebrates such as insects, larvae, and spiders.
Their usual feeding times occur early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Golden pheasants are preyed upon by many predators like dogs, wildcats, foxes, and even humans. Their eggs are preyed upon by smaller creatures
In their breeding season, from early April to June, a female will come to a male’s territory after hearing his crow. The male will inflate his ruff to attract the female. If the female is uninterested, the male will prevent her from leaving by running circles around her.
Once he has her attention, the male will spread his neck feathers like a cape and show off his gold rump and gorgeous tail till she believes he’s a good choice. In the wild, the male may mate with multiple females.
Golden pheasants typically build their nests on the ground amidst tall grass and dense bushes, taking advantage of the natural camouflage provided by the surrounding ground vegetation.
The female golden crested pheasant prepares a shallow hole in the ground, lining it with grass and other vegetation. Then, the hen will lay 5-12 beige-colored eggs in it. The eggs are incubated for about 22 days.
After hatching, the chicks are covered in reddish-brown down. They can instantly follow their mother around, pecking for food. The chicks typically fledge at around 2 weeks.
Both males and females reach sexual maturity at the age of 1. However, the red-golden pheasant males of the species do not acquire their full bright colors until they are 2 years old. They have a lifespan of 5 – 6 years.
6. Conservation Status
Golden pheasants’ global population has not been estimated due to their wide range. Despite being classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, their number is decreasing because of many reasons. They can be timber exploitation, pet bird trade, or overhunting for food. They are highly sought after for captivity due to their resilient nature and stunning appearance, making them one of the most popular species among all pheasants.