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Golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus)

Golden pheasant
Golden pheasant

Personal Information
One male golden pheasant, Sultan, lives in the Zoo's Aviary. Males are brightly colored with a red chest, a golden-yellow crest and a long tail. Such festive coloring contributes to the courtship displays. Females are brown, beige and black.

Status in the Wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least concern. The golden pheasant is a popular species to have in captivity in zoos and aviaries. For being so well known and familiar in captivity, very little is known of their habits in the wild in the mountains of central China.

Golden pheasants live in central and southern China on bushy slopes, rocky mountainsides and terraced fields where there are dense conifer forests and sparse undergrowth.

Golden pheasants are omnivores. They eat tender bamboo shoots, insects, berries, grubs, seeds and flowers.

  • Golden pheasants are essentially land birds, spending most of their time on the forest floors. They spend very little time airborne.
  • The adult male is about forty inches in length, but its showy tail accounts for two-thirds of its total length.
  • The female pheasant lays 8 to 12 eggs at one time and incubates the eggs for approximately three weeks.
  • Golden pheasants love the shade. If a male golden pheasant is exposed to direct sunlight all the time, his plumage can fade.
  • The golden pheasant has been kept in captivity since as early as 1740 and perhaps was the first type of pheasant brought to North America. There is evidence that George Washington may have kept them at Mount Vernon.