Native to China’s hilly woods, the brilliant golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) is a sight to behold. The word “with golden crest” in Ancient Greek khrusolophos and the Latin word pictus, which means “painted” from pingere, “to paint,” are the sources of this bird’s genus name.
Golden Pheasant Characteristics
The appearance of male and female Golden Pheasants varies. Males range in length from 90 to 105 centimeters, with the tail accounting for two-thirds of that length. The length of females ranges from 60 to 80 centimeters, with the tail accounting for half of that length.
The vivid hue of male Golden Pheasants makes them clearly identifiable. Their wattles and orbital skin are yellow, and their cheeks, throat, and chin are all rust-colored. Female Golden Pheasants are less colorful and more duller than males. They have a mottled brown plumage, pale brown face, throat, breast, and sides, pale yellow feet, and are more slender in appearance.
Golden Pheasant Diet
Golden pheasants mostly consume plants on the ground, such as berries, grains, grubs, and seeds. Though their food may vary seasonally, they will also consume small insects and other invertebrates when the chance presents itself. They prefer to remain near people throughout the winter and consume wheat leaves and seeds.
Habits and Lifestyle
A sedentary and often solitary bird, golden pheasants prefer to remain by themselves during the non-breeding season. Despite their awkward short-burst flying ability, they prefer to run and spend most of their time on the ground.
They graze on the ground, but at night they spend the night in trees. They have a characteristic wing sound and are capable of flying upward quickly if disturbed. A variety of sounds are used by golden pheasants to communicate in various contexts. During the breeding season, males emit a metallic call in addition to their primary call, which is “chack chack.”
The incredibly shy golden pheasant spends its days hiding in thick, dark forests and woodlands and spends its nights roosting in very tall trees. It’s possible that despite their ability to fly, golden pheasants frequently feed on the ground since they are extremely awkward flyers.
Nevertheless, they have the ability to take off quickly and with a characteristic wing sound if they are disturbed. Their behavior in the field is little understood since, despite their vivid colors, the males are hard to identify. Early in the morning is the best time to look for Golden Pheasants because they may be found in clearings. A characteristic metallic call is made by males during the breeding season.
Predators And Threats
Foxes, wildcats, and other prey-seeking birds frequently hunt golden pheasants. These creatures may attempt to consume them or their eggs. The particular species does differ based on where they are found; for example, there can be significant differences between individuals who hunt them in China or South America. They may also be attempted to be eaten by some large rodents.
The human threat exists as well since, like most pheasant and game birds, they are hunted for both sport and meat. However, they are rather adept at staying out of sight and are generally secure and sound in their habitats amidst dense forests.
Although golden pheasants are monogamous and only form pairs, some of the males have been known to display polygynous behavior and maintain harems of up to eight females. These birds build their nests in tall grass or dense bushes on the ground.
In a shallow depression, the female deposits five to twelve eggs, which are then incubated for two to three weeks. Precocial chicks can move and feed almost immediately after birth; they are born with their eyes open. Males mature at two years of age, while young females often reach maturity at one year of age.
Population threats: Although there is currently no threat to golden pheasants, there may be a decline in population in some areas as a result of deforestation, food hunting, and capture for the cagebird trade.
Population number: The overall population size of golden pheasants is not provided by the IUCN Red List or any other source. The IUCN Red List states that there are currently 1,000–2,000 of these species living in the UK. The IUCN Red List now lists golden pheasants as Least Concern (LC), while the species is becoming less common.