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Jan 5

Bird Day

Golden Pheasant
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Golden Pheasant
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"The world has different owners at sunrise... Even your own garden does not belong to you. Rabbits and blackbirds have the lawns; a tortoise-shell cat who never appears in daytime patrols the brick walls, and a golden-tailed pheasant glints his way through the iris spears."

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001)

The Golden Pheasant, also known as the ‘Chinese Pheasant’, is one of the more popular species of pheasant which is native to the mountainous forests of Western and Central China. Male Golden Pheasants are beautifully coloured with a golden crest tipped with red which extends from the top of their heads, down their necks. They have bright red underparts, dark coloured wings and a pale brown, long, barred tail. Their rumps are also golden, upper backs are green and they have bright yellow eyes with a small black pupil. Their face, throat and chin are a rust colour and their wattles and orbital skin are yellow. Beak, legs and feet are also yellow. Vocalisations include a ‘chack chack’ sound. Males have a distinctive metallic call during the breeding season. Also, during the males elaborate courtship display, he will spread his neck feathers over his head and beak, like a cape!

Bird Day aims to raise awareness of the plights faced by common and rare birds, from disease and environmental factors to illegal trade and welfare in captivity.

The golden pheasant or Chinese pheasant, (Chrysolophus pictus) is a gamebird native to forests in mountainous areas of western China, but feral populations have been established in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Despite the male's showy appearance, these birds are difficult to spot in their natural habitat, the dense, dark young conifer forests with sparse undergrowth. Consequently, little is known about their behaviour in the wild.

They feed on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrates but roost in trees at night. While they can fly, they prefer to run. And if startled, they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed and with a distinctive wing sound.

In Britain, the golden pheasant was introduced to many areas for ornament and as a game bird.  Populations remain strong in the Breckland of Norfolk, with populations persisting on Anglesey, in Dumfries and Galloway and on Brownsea IslandDorset.

For more on the pheasant, click his portrait.