Beautiful birds of the pheasant family

Timothy Hill

Common Pheasant from The Crossley ID Manual Britain and Eire. – Photo by Richard Crossley/Wikimedia Commons

AS a 7-yr-aged boy, a person November, I visited my uncle who lived deep inside the countryside six miles from my household. He made the decision to take me and my cocker spaniel for a stroll to the croft (moorland) quite close to his residence. He was a pretty experienced marksman and armed with his 12 bore double-barrelled rifle, I felt quite safe on this bleak moorland protected with bracken, heather, and gnarled trees.

All of a sudden, he swung his gun upwards to the sky and aimed at some substantial flying birds. ‘Bang, bang!’ and two pheasants came tumbling earthwards. He gave them to my mother to cook but to start with I experienced to pluck them of their feathers. I held their really colourful feathers for a long time and typically wondered why these types of a lovely hen was ever located in Britain.

Pheasants have been initially recorded in England in 1059 Ad and are now widespread by means of Britain and Ireland. It is assumed that they have been introduced from Asia by the Roman invaders. The popular pheasant, which is now widespread all through the world, is derived from the Chinese ring-necked, black-necked, and Mongolian breeds and so change in its plumage. They belong to an get of Galliformes or land fowls.

Its English title is derived from French by means of Latin and Greek to necessarily mean a hen from the River Phasis (now River Rhioni) which sales opportunities into the Black Sea to the south of the town of Poti, in Georgia. Globally there are almost 70 species of pheasant.

Frequent pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

The cock pheasant’s duration is about 84cm, which include its tail length and has a mottled chestnut and black back again. A white collar all around its neck marks its iridescent blue-environmentally friendly head. Its head is distinguished by its crimson, fleshy lobes hanging from its neck, normally recognized as ‘wattles’. By comparison, the hen pheasant has a dull and buff colored plumage, which is mottled so that she can lie low in autumnal fallen leaves and absolutely motionless when predators are about. These pheasants are ground dwelling birds and so vulnerable to foxes, stoats, weasels, birds of prey and of program people.


The rearing of pheasants in fox proof enclosures and their subsequent launch for ‘shooting parties’ has turn into significant business enterprise in rural economies in the Uk. Listed here, virtually 50 million of these birds are yearly shot in the air, utilizing ‘beaters’ to transfer together the floor to ‘flush out’ the birds. The capturing year begins in Oct.

On our every day walks, my aged Vizsla pet and I, usually and inadvertently, ‘flush out’ up to 20 pheasants, the offspring of a pheasant rearing farm in close proximity to to my residence. These had been unveiled into the wild on the sale of the farm and the new operator has better suggestions of land administration. So far, these pheasants have not been contaminated by avian flu and I pray that they stay resistant. The hen pheasant lays involving 10 and 15 olive-eco-friendly eggs from April to June in a properly-concealed grass nest with the chicks hatching following 23 to 27 times.

Threat to snakes

The typical viper or adder is Britain’s only venomous snake and is now on the brink of extinction by 2032 since of the proliferation of pheasants! Pheasants eliminate reptiles on sight, pecking at the grownup snake and swallowing young snakes full. The adder’s venomous chunk seldom penetrates the pheasant’s carefully woven feathers. Adders are most active in the summer time months and many years back I feared for my doggy but this past summer time the dread subsided.

Malaysia has quite a few far more species of pheasant and in this post, I shall focus on just 3, normally identified in Borneo the Crested fireback (Lophura ignita), the Malayan crested argus (Rheinardia nigrescens), and the Terrific Argus (Argusianus argus).

Crested fireback

Discovered in the submontane primary forests of the Thai-Malaysian Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra, this species, eight several years in the past, was break up into two subspecies: the lesser Bornean crested fireback and the larger Bornean crested fireback. These are medium sized birds up to 70cm in size with a peacock-like dark crest, bluish-black plumage and black wings and a tail of brownish yellow. With whitish legs and bare blue facial skin, it is very easily recognised.

Omnivorous in eating plan, they feed on plants, fruit, and little animals. The female lays 4 to eight creamy white eggs. These birds are categorised as Vulnerable on the IUCN Pink Record of Threatened Species since of their decline of habitat and over hunting.

Malayan crested argus pheasant

This bird is distinguished by two head-crests and when alarmed, the back again of the head crest is erected as it is when in mating courtship displays. It has a darkish brown noticed again, a pink beak and blue skin around its eyes. Owing to the duration of its 12 tail feathers, measuring up to 1.73 metres, its all round duration may differ in between 1.9 to 2.4 metres. The female is significantly shorter at about 75cm. Although it resembles a peafowl in stature, it is undoubtably a member of the pheasant family.

Diet program and breeding

It feeds typically on invertebrates, molluscs, amphibians, very tiny reptiles, bamboo shoots, fruit, and fungi and is a pretty shy, elusive fowl. Tiny is definitely regarded about the mating behaviors of this chook other than the actuality that their nesting websites are superior up on steep escarpments. Creating one particular or two large eggs, the woman and male take turns in incubating these eggs for up to 25 days. Their chicks hatch with nicely-designed wing feathers and are fed by the two mothers and fathers. In the course of the wet time, this crested argus can take to the branches of emergent trees in the main forest for days on conclude.

Good Argus pheasant

This chook is a grasp of camouflage, which Arthur Russell Wallace recalls, in his famous e book, ‘The Malay Archipelago’, hence: “its sober colours … will have to harmonise with the lifeless leaves amid which it dwells and renders it inconspicuous.”

The Fantastic Argus Pheasant is a learn of camouflage. – Photo by Sandy Cole/Wikimedia Commons

Dr Eric Mjoberg, in his 1930 guide entitled ‘Forest Existence and Adventures in the Malay Archipelago’, devotes a total chapter to this hen and in conclusion documents that “the flesh is pretty toxic, owing to the fact that the Argus pheasant feeds pretty much entirely on a variety of poisonous forest fruits”.

Resplendent plumage

Characterised by its distinctive blue head and neck and reddish-brown breast, it has black, almost hair-like, feathers on its crown and nape and pink legs. With a tail measuring up to 140cm, the cock species is a single the biggest of pheasants with a overall size of in between 160cm to 200cm and weighs among 2kg and 3kg. They also sport extremely prolonged tail feathers and extremely broad and elongated secondary wing feathers embellished with eyespots.

The hens, by comparison, are significantly lesser and duller in colouration, possessing shorter tails and much less eyespots. Measuring 70cm to 76cm in complete size, they weigh among 1.6kg and 1.7kg.

Habitat and conduct

These birds might be at times observed in key of Borneo, Sumatra, and Peninsular Malaysia in early mornings and evenings. Minimal is actually recognised about their breeding other than the simple fact that the hen lays two eggs with male chicks producing their adult plumage when a few years old. They are pretty elusive birds.

At mating time, the male finds an open put in the forest and prepares a dancing place by clearing leaves with its wings and feet. He then draws in girls with his loud phone calls and then dances just before them with his wings outspread therefore creating two huge admirers waving throughout his system. These wings reveal hundreds of eyespots, however his true eyes are hidden at the rear of the fanning wings.

I when saw one of these outstanding birds on a daybreak stroll along a route at Danum Valley in Sabah, listening to its shrill contact prior to I actually saw it. On viewing me, it quickly scuttled into the undergrowth.

This wonderful fowl is however hunted mostly for its feathers and like the Crested fireback is labeled as Vulnerable on IUCN Pink List.

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