Silver Pheasant

The Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera) is a species of pheasant found in forests, mainly in mountains, of mainland Southeast Asia, and eastern and southern China, with introduced populations in Hawaii and various locations in the US mainland. The male is black and white, while the female is mainly brown. Both sexes have a bare red face and red legs (the latter separating it from the greyish-legged Kalij Pheasant). It is common in aviculture, and overall also remains common in the wild, but some of its subspecies (notably whiteheadi from Hainan, engelbachi from southern Laos, and annamensis from southern Vietnam) are rare and threatened.

This is a relatively large pheasant, with males of the largest subspecies having a total length of 120 to 125 cm (47 to 49 in), including a tail of up to 75 cm (30 in), while the males of the smallest subspecies barely reach 70 cm (28 in) in total length, including a tail of about 30 cm (12 in). The body mass of males can range from 1.13–2 kg (2.5–4.4 lb). Females of all subspecies are notably smaller than their respective males, with a size range of 55–90 cm (22–35 in) in total length, including a tail of 24–32 cm (9.4–13 in). The body mass of females can range from 1–1.3 kg (2.2–2.9 lb). Males of the northern subspecies, which are the largest, have white upperparts and tail (most feathers with some black markings), while their underparts and crest are glossy bluish-black. The males of the southern subspecies have greyer upperparts and tail with extensive black markings, making them appear far darker than the northern subspecies.The adult male plumage is reached in the second year.Females are brown and shorter-tailed than the males. Females of some subspecies have whitish underparts strongly patterned with black, and in whiteheadi this extends to the upper mantle.

Housing / Keeping:
They are super birds in the aviary. The cocks, like most of the pheasants, like to put on a good display during the breeding season. They are hardy birds which are very easy to look after. We have plenty of cover in the pens as the cocks can be aggressive to their mates although with our birds we have not found this to be the case.

They have a liking for peanuts and grain as well as some fruit, especially berries, but our birds have ignored any live food given to them. Fresh water should be provided daily.

Hens can lay up to around 20 eggs in a season which are incubated for 25 - 26 days. They start laying at the end of March or beginning of April and will continue until around the end of May.

Sexing Silver Pheasant Chicks:
The cocks of the silver pheasants will have fine white lines showing firstly on the tail and then on the wings. This should be noticeable by about three months of age. Within the next couple of months the new feathers coming through will show much more of the detailed markings which are so beautiful on the adult cock. The hen has a crest similar to the cock but she is fairly plain with medium brown feathers although the breast feathers are paler and almost look dusted with white chalk.

These are super birds which are fairly quiet and will allow the plants in their aviary to flourish (they don't dig them up or eat every leaf as it appears). Although at the moment, in this country, they are quite scarce they are bound to become much more popular and I see no reason why they can not be kept by a novice, as they have proven themselves to us to be excellent aviary birds needing no special care whatsoever.


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