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A photo of a Lady Amherst's Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae), male
Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Male

Lady Amherst's Pheasant

Chrysolophus amherstiae

The Lady Amherst's pheasant, Chrysolophus amherstiae, is a striking bird with a remarkable appearance. The male, reaching lengths of 100–120 cm, is adorned with a nuchal cape of white and black, a vibrant red crest, and a long tail marked with greyish white, black bars, and red streaks at the base. The chest and belly are pure white, while the throat displays a scaled green pattern. The back is a dark green, wings are a mix of blue and brown, and the rump is a bright yellow. The female, in contrast, is less conspicuous with her mottled brown plumage and finer barring, resembling the female common pheasant but with a darker head and cleaner underparts.

Identification Tips

To identify the male Lady Amherst's pheasant, look for the distinctive red crest, white and black cape, and the long, barred tail. The female can be recognized by her overall mottled brown appearance and finer barring compared to the female common pheasant. Both sexes have a yellow eye with blue-green bare skin around it, horn-coloured bills, and blue-gray legs.

Habitat

These birds inhabit dense, dark forests with thick undergrowth, making them quite elusive in their natural environment.

Distribution

Native to southwestern China and far northern Myanmar, Lady Amherst's pheasant has also been introduced to other locations, including England, where a feral population once existed.

Behaviour

Despite their bright plumage, these pheasants are adept at remaining unseen in their natural habitat. They feed on the ground, consuming grain, leaves, and invertebrates, but take to the trees to roost at night. While capable of flight, they prefer to run, though they can burst into the air with great speed and a distinctive wing sound when startled.

Song & Calls

The male produces a metallic call during the breeding season, which is part of their courtship display.

Breeding

Information on the breeding habits of Lady Amherst's pheasant in the wild is limited due to their secretive nature.

Similar Species

The Lady Amherst's pheasant is closely related to the golden pheasant, but can be distinguished by its larger size, yellow eye, and the blue-green skin around it.

Diet and Feeding

These pheasants forage on the ground for grain, leaves, and invertebrates.

Conservation status

The Lady Amherst's pheasant is currently evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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