Scientific name: Chrysolophus pictus
Status: Resident introduced population
Breeding birds: 50-100 pairs
Conservation status: Introduced
Length: 60 – 115 cm
Wingspan: 65 – 75 cm
Weight: 550 – 700 g
Adult male golden pheasants have a deep green upperback and a golden yellow lower back and rump. Their scapulars are dark red, and they have white primaries, brown secondaries barred with creamy white, and cobalt blue tertials. Their upperwing coverts are rust-coloured.
Their breasts are scarlet and their flanks, belly and vent are scarlet and pale chestnut. They have long black tail feathers with cinnamon spots and tips and a red base on several of their rectrices.
Golden pheasants have a rust-coloured face, chin, throat and neck sides, and a silky golden yellow crest with red tips. They have a pale orange ruff with bluish-black edges to the feathers which resembles scaling. The bare skin of their wattles is yellow.
They have yellow bills, pale yellow eyes with a yellow eye-ring, and dull yellow legs and feet. There is a spur behind the legs.
Female golden pheasants are dull with rufous brown plumage with dark bars. The sides of their breasts are barred with buff and dark brown and their bellies are pale buff. The face and throat are buff and they have a snorter tail.
Juvenile golden pheasants are similar to females but with a. spotted tail and several red patches on their plumage.
Golden pheasants breed in April. They build their nest on the ground which is a shallow depression lined with plant materials and concealed in dense brush, bushes, or tall grass.
Golden pheasants lay 5-12 pale buff eggs which are incubated for 22-23 days. The chicks are precocial and can move and feed very soon, They fledge 14 days after hatching.
Golden pheasants eat mainly plant matter such as berries, seeds, leaves, buds, and shoots. They will also take spiders and insects.
Where to see them
Golden pheasants can be seen all year round in small areas of England, Scotland, and Wales. They are found in forests and dense woodlands and are best spotted in the early morning.
Did you know?
Golden pheasants have been kept in captivity for 100s of years.
Selective breeding has resulted in a number of unique colourings including silver, mahogany, peach, salmon, cinnamon and yellow. Wild golden pheasants are described as ‘red golden’.