pheasant

pheasant

[fez-uhnt]
pheasant, common name for some members of a family (Phasianidae) of henlike birds related to the grouse and including the Old World partridge, the peacock, various domestic and jungle fowls, and the true pheasants (genus Phasianus). Pheasants are characterized by their wattled heads and long tails and by the brilliant plumage and elaborate courtship displays of the male. They are all indigenous to Asia, chiefly India. The English pheasant, introduced from the Black Sea area before 1056, has been interbred with both the Chinese ring-necked and the Japanese pheasants, and the hybrid ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, is established as a common game bird in the N United States. It eats berries, seeds, young shoots, and insects and prefers open country with brush cover. The body of the male ring-necked pheasant is mostly reddish brown, the head and neck an iridescent dark green, the face red, and the neck ringed with white. The protectively colored hen is distinguished from the grouse by her long tail. The closely related ruffed grouse is called pheasant in the central and S United States. Asian pheasants of great beauty are the argus (Argusianus argus), the golden (Chrysolophus pictus), the silver (Gennaeus nycthemerus), and the Lady Amherst (C. amherstiae), all of which inhabit the Himalayas—as do the Reeves pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii), with an 8-ft (2.4-m) tail, the unique tree-dwelling Impeyan pheasant (Tophophorus impejanus), and the tragopan, or horned, pheasant (Tragopan temmincki). Pheasants are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Phasianidae.

Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Any of about 50 species of mostly long-tailed birds in the family Phasianidae (order Galliformes), chiefly Asian but naturalized elsewhere. Most species inhabit open woodlands and brushy fields. All have a hoarse call. The feet and lower legs are unfeathered. Females are inconspicuous. Most males are strikingly coloured and have one or more leg spurs, and some have a fleshy facial ornament. Males sometimes fight to the death for a harem of hens. Male ring-necked or common pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), 35 in. (90 cm) long, have a streaming tail, coppery breast, purplish green neck, and ear tufts; they are widespread in the northern U.S. Japanese green pheasants (P. versicolor) call in concert when an earthquake is imminent.

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Pheasants are a group of large birds in the order Galliformes.

Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, with males being highly ornate with bright colours and adornments such as wattles and long tails. Males are usually larger than the females, and have longer tails. Males play no part in rearing the young. Pheasants typically eat seeds and some insects. While on the ground, a collection of pheasants is called a nye.

There are 35 species of pheasant in 11 different genera. The best-known is the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) which is widespread throughout the world in introduced feral populations and in farm operations. Various other pheasant species are popular in aviaries, such as the Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus).

Species in taxonomic order

This list is ordered to show presumed relationships between species

  • Blood Pheasant (genus Ithaginis)
  • Koklass (genus Pucrasia)
  • Gallopheasants (genus Lophura)
    • Kalij Pheasant, (L. leucomelanos)
      • White-crested Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. hamiltoni)
      • Nepal Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. leucomelanos)
      • Black-backed Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. melanota)
      • Black Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. moffitti)
      • Black-breasted Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. lathami)
      • William's Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. williamsi)
      • Oates' Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. oatesi)
      • Crawfurd's Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. crawfurdi)
      • Lineated Kalij Pheasant, (L. l. lineata)
    • Silver Pheasant, (L. nycthemera)

  • Imperial Pheasant, (L. imperialis)
  • Edward's Pheasant, (L. edwardsi)
  • Swinhoe's Pheasant, (L. swinhoii)
  • Salvadori's Pheasant, (L. inornata)
  • Crestless Fireback Pheasant, (L. erythrophthalma)
    • Malayan Crestless Fireback, (L. e. erythrophthalma)
    • Bornean Crestless Fireback, (L. e. pyronota)
  • Crested Fireback Pheasant, (L. ignita)
  • Siamese Fireback, (L. diardi)
  • Bulwer's Wattled Pheasant, (L. bulweri)
  • Eared Pheasants (genus Crossoptilon)
  • Cheer Pheasant (genus Catreus)
  • Long-tailed Pheasants (genus Syrmaticus)
  • Typical Pheasants (genus Phasianus)
    • Green Pheasant (P. versicolor)
    • Common Pheasant, (P. colchicus)
      • Caucasus Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus colchicus group
      • White-winged Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus chrysomelas/principalis group
        • Prince of Wales Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus principalis
      • Mongolian Ring-necked Pheasants or White-winged Ring-necked Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus mongolicus group
      • Tarim Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus tarimensis group
      • Chinese Ring-necked Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus torquatus group
        • Taiwan Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus formosanus
  • Ruffed Pheasants (genus Chrysolophus)
  • Peacock Pheasants (genus Polyplectron)
  • Crested Argus (genus Rheinartia)
  • Great Argus (genus Argusianus)
  • References

    • Beebe, William. 1918-22. A Monograph of the Pheasants. 1st edition in 4 volumes: H. F. Witherby, London. Reprint: 1990, Dover Publications.(4 volumes bound as 2). ISBN 0-486-26579-X and ISBN 0-486-26580-3. Republished as: Pheasants: Their Lives and Homes. 2 vols. 1926. Single volume edition: New York Zoological Society, 1936.)
    • Green-Armytage, Stephen. 2002. Extraordinary Pheasants.Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York. Book ISBN 0-8109-1007-1.
    • Madge and McGowan, Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse ISBN 0-7136-3966-0

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