Also known as the Chinese Pheasant, the Golden Pheasant is a game bird of the order Galliformes and the family Phasianidae. The bird is native to China's mountainous areas but some populations have established in England and other places. The bird was first brought to the European continent in the 18th century; the first American known to keep and raise a pheasant was the famous George Washington. Along with the Lady Amherst Pheasant they make the group of pheasants called the Ruffed Pheasants. In captivity, the Golden Pheasant is also known as the Red Golden Pheasant and the male pheasants are one of the most brilliantly colored birds.
The male Golden Pheasant has a golden-yellow chest with small red markings at the tip. The throat, chin, sides of the neck and the face are rusty tan while the orbital skin and wattles are yellow. The bird's upper back is green colored while the rest of the back is golden-yellow just like the rump. The scapulars are dark red colored and the tertiaries are blue. The central tail feathers are black spotted along with cinnamon just like the tail’s tip. Both the central tail feathers and the upper tail coverts have the same color. In comparison, the female Golden Pheasant is somewhat similar to the Ringneck Pheasant (Common Pheasant), a little bit darker and slender in comparison with the Ringneck and also with a larger tail, measuring between 60 and 80 cm in length. In addition the female Golden Pheasant has barred buff and blackish brown breast and sides while the abdomen is plain buff, just like the throat and face.
This species of pheasant originates in western China, but feral populations have been established in Europe and the United States. Despite the male's flashy appearance, these hardy birds are very difficult to see in their natural habitat, which is dense, dark young conifer forests with sparse undergrowth. Consequently, little is known of their behavior in the wild. However, their preferred habitats are dense forests and woodlands and spare undergrowth.
Golden Pheasants mainly feed on the ground on grain, invertebrates, berries, grubs and seeds as well as other kinds of vegetation. Also, they sometimes feed on small reptiles such as lizards.
Moving on to the breeding aspect, they lay between 8 and 12 eggs and the incubating period lasts between 22 and 23 days. Golden pheasants rarely breed in captivity. There are several known mutations of the Golden Pheasant such as the Dark-throated, Cinnamon, Salmon, Snowflake or Yellow (Ghigi golden).
Also, female Golden Pheasants lay around 8 - 12 eggs in April. Incubation time is around 22 - 23 days. The chicks fledge after 12 - 14 days. Males acquire their bright colors during their second year of life but are sexually mature in their first year. The life span of a Golden Pheasant is 5 - 6 years.
Despite the fact that humans seem to be the most common predator of the pheasants, as they are hunted for their meat and feathers. Other predators are foxes, dogs and wildcats, but also smaller animals that eat the pheasants’ eggs.
Hunting Tips & Tricks
As finding a pheasant is a quite difficult job, since they usually hide and are not easy to spot, you should make this easier for you by going hunting with dogs which are especially trained for this. Also, you should have a trained eye, as these birds can very easily blend in with the landscape you might miss them. Anyhow, pheasant hunting requires skill with a gun and with the outdoor life. To find out more useful information, check out our Tips & Tricks section.
Some interesting facts about the Golden Pheasant would be that they can easily and quickly feel danger, that is why they are not easy to find or catch. In China, their place of origin, it is said that they bring good luck and prosperty. Also, they are thought to easily sense unusual hazards.The very first golden pheasant was introduced by Linnaeus in 1758.
During the breeding season, the male Golden Pheasant has a metallic call.