Lady Amherst's Pheasant

The Lady Amherst's Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae) are native to south western China and Tibet, but have also established a self-supporting, but now declining, feral population in England. The adult male is 100-120 cm in length, its tail accoun ting for 80 cm of the total length. It is unmistakable with its black and silver head, long grey tail and rump, and red, blue, white and yellow body plumage. The "cape" can be raised in display.This species is closely related to the Golden Pheasant. The female is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage all over, similar to that of the female Common Pheasant but with finer barring. She is very like the female Golden Pheasant, but has a darker head and cleaner underparts than the hen of that species.

Male: Head & amp; Neck - Crown: Short metallic green; Crest: Crimson, narrow, stiff elongated feathers; Face & Throat: Black with metallic green spots; Bare Facial Skin & Lappet: Bluish or bluish-green; Ruff: White, rounded feathers with a blue or black border; Beak: Bluish gray Iris: Yellow. Body - Mantle: Metallic bluish green, rounded feathers with a black border edged with scintillant (sparkling) green; Upper & Middle Back: Black with a green bar and a wide buffy yellow fringe; square, broad feathers; Rump: Black with a green bar and a vermilion fringe (like an irregular patch), square, broad feathers; Breast: Metallic bluish green, rounded feathers with a black border edged with scintillant green which is wider and brighter than mantle Lower Breast: White; Flanks: White, sometimes with a slight tinge of pale yellow over the white on the lower sides; Abdomen: White; Vent: White, barred with black and brownish-gray. Wings - Scapulars: Metallic bluish green, with black border edged with scintillant green; rounded feathers; Wing Coverts: Dark metallic blue with black borders; Primaries: Blackish-brown sparsely barred with buff. Tail - Central Rectrices: White, with curved unbroken crescent shaped blackish-blue bars and wavy black lines on the interspaces; Other Rectrices: Similar on the narrow inner web, silvery-gray passing to brown outside with curved black bars on the outer web; Upper Tail Coverts: Mottled black and white with long orange-vermilion tips; Under Tail Coverts: Black and dark green more or less barred with white; Length: 33 7/8 to 45 inches. Legs & Feet - Thighs: Mottle white, black and brown; Tarsus & Feet: Bluish gray. Size - 50 to 66 1/2 inches.

Female: Head & Neck - Crown: Reddish chestnut with black barring; Sides of Head & Neck: Blackish brown, spotted with cinnamon buff strongly washed with reddish chestnut with dark blackish barring with a green sheen; Face: Buff, strongly tinged with reddish chestnut; Upper Throat: Pale buff, sometimes white; Lower Throat: Buff, strongly tinged with reddish chestnut; Lores, Cheeks, & Ear Coverts: Silvery gray spotted with black; Orbital Skin: Light slaty-blue; Beak: Bluish-gray; Iris: Brown, sometimes pale yellow or gray in older hens. Body - Mantle: Rufous (rust) buff, strongly washed with reddish-chestnut, with dark barring having a greenish sheen; Back: Chestnut, strongly vermiculated with black; Flanks: Buff with dark blackish barring; Breast: Buff with darkish brown barring with a green sheen; Abdomen: Pale buff, sometimes white. Wings - Wing Coverts, Tertiaries & Secondaries: Rufous buff, washed with reddish chestnut, black barring with a green sheen, bars courser that those on the mantle. Tail - Rufous brown, rounded feathers at the tip, strongly marked with broad irregular bars of black, buff and pale gray vermiculated with black; Length: 12 1/8 to 26 3/4 inches. Legs & Feet - Thighs: Buff, mottled black and brown; Legs & Feet: Bluish-gray. Size - 26 to 26 3/4 inches.

Despite the male's showy appearance, these birds are very difficult to see in their natural habitat, which is dense, dark forests with thick undergrowth. Consequently, little is known of their behaviour in the wild.They feed on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrates, but roost in trees at night. Whilst they can fly, they prefer to run, but if startled they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive wing sound. The male has a gruff call in the breed ing season. The name commemorates Sarah Countess Amherst, wife of William Pitt Amherst, Governor General of Bengal, who was responsible for sending the first specimen of the bird to London in 1828.

Status in Wild: Believed to be uncommon, but not endangered
Status in Aviculture: Debated, pure Lady Amherst are considered rare, but census of breeders show this to be a very common aviary bird
Breeding Season: Varied depending on climate, usually begins in May.


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