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Bird Orders. Galliformes part two. Two species of Pheasant and the Peacock

Updated on July 13, 2015

Golden pheasant



This is the second in the series 'Looking at Bird Orders',and part two looking at the Order of birds known as the Galliformes. In the first part we looked at the characteristics of birds that make up the order and their habitat, and featured the Domestic Cock.

Here we review three more species in this order. They are from three typical genera in that order that of Chrysolophus,Lophura and that of Pavo. We commence with the Golden pheasant.

Golden pheasant Chrysolophus pictus


The plumage of the female is much duller

Uploaded by Fanghong
Uploaded by Fanghong | Source

Golden pheasant a little background history

The so called 'painted' Pheasants are native to China,from which they have been introduced into parks and aviaries of Europe. They were reared here in the UK and elsewhere with the same ease as the Common Pheasant **.,and they appeared to be more familiar in their habits.

On their first introduction this was not supposed to be the case and therefore they were nursed with great care. This was,unfortunately,detrimental to the breed,for they were so much encumbered by the excess of human attention that their native powers were rendered much less efficient than they would have been if they had been left altogether alone.

Later it was realized that by leaving them to adapt naturally to our climate and environs they fared much better than in a molly-cuddled state.

The male bird when in full plumage is nearly three feet in length of which the tail forms two thirds. The female is not only smaller and has a much shorter tail but the whole of her plumage is much duller. The young males resemble the females and are not adorned with all the richness and colour until they have moulted for a second time.

** This species has been reviewed in detail in my {Birds of Europe} series.


Plumage of the male

The plumage of the male. --From the head there are bright yellow feathers which hang gracefully over the hind part, the colours of which,together with the sides of the neck are a beautifully patterned orange and black. The distinctive golden tinge is mixed with green on the back of the neck, the feathers of the back are bright yellow,bordered with crimson. A deep blue surmounts the base of the wings which are beautifully varied with chestnut,brown and red.

The feathers of the tail are chestnut and black,and above the base a bright scarlet,which is the colour of all the under parts,except the neck, the latter being a dusky brown. The iris,bill and legs are bright yellow.

Food and habits of the Golden pheasant

They feed on Hemp seed,Rice,Wheat or Barley,and they will also eat Cabbages,Herbs and fruit. They are also fond of insects.

The female begins to lay her eggs by late March or early April,and they have a more red colour than those produced by the Common Pheasant.

The Golden pheasant often referred to as the painted pheasant will breed with the common pheasant,but the young are often infertile. from their known hardiness and their extreme beauty it is not surprising that these birds were highly desireable and they soon multiplied in all ornamental grounds. it is a sad fact,however, that the birds were sought after by poachers in significant numbers in days gone by, They regarded the flesh of this species as being superior to that of the more numerous common pheasant

Taken at a zoo in Chile.
Taken at a zoo in Chile. | Source

Pair of Silver Pheasants.


The Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthermera

The Silver pheasant was once more commonly referred to as the Pencilled Pheasant,is still ore hardy than the above species,and has been reared and domesticated with nearly as little care as the common fowl. Its robust constitution approximates it more to the common domestic poultry than any other Pheasants. The form of its caudal plumes,and mode of their insertion also present similarities with the domestic cock {See part one of Galliformes}.

The plumage is less brilliant than that of the Golden pheasant and is about for to five inches shorter than that bird. The cheeks are bright red,and the top of the head has long black feathers falling backwards. The back,wings and upper parts of the tail ,are of a silvery white pencilled with black,the under parts are purplish black.

It has two long tail feathers of pure white,the bill is dusky yellow,and the legs a deep red colour. The trachea of this pheasant is straight through its entire length and grows narrower only towards the lower larynx as in the cocks. The male bird of this species is of a warm constitution. They tend to mate and breed in the latter part of April.

Male Silver Pheasant


Female and her young

The female attends to her young with great assiduity,when she has sufficient liberty. The incubation period lasts for a period of about three weeks. The number of eggs vary from ten to sixteen. The colour of the Eggs are yellowish red,often bordering on black,and have small brown points on them.

The bird was introduced into all countries of Europe from the north of China,and seems to thrive very well with little attention needed to look after them. The plumage of the Silver pheasant is by no means so bright has the Golden pheasant,however,the two together make a very agreeable contrast in collections.

The magnificent Peacock


Peacock showing clearly the long train of the tail

Taken at London Zoo England.
Taken at London Zoo England. | Source

The genus Pavo -The Peacock

This bird has been long known and generally admired,and in some respects is one of the most beautiful of birds. The general characteristics are----The bill is naked at the base,convex in the upper part,thickened and bent downwards at the tip,the nostrils open,the cheeks partially bare of feathers.

The feathers of the rump are elongated,broad,capable of being spread out like a large fan,and marked with ocellated spots {eyes} of a beautiful form and most brilliant colours. The true tail is wedge shaped and consists of eighteen feathers extending of which assists greatly in producing the regular fan formed by the feathers of the rump. The head is furnished with a crest.The feet have four toes each and the tarsi are furnished with conical spots.

The common Peacock,Parvo cristatus-The crest on the head is compressed laterally. The body of the male is golden green,glossed with bronze reflections and the wing coverts green gold,glossed with bronze and blue,the colours in all these parts being remarkable for their beauty of iridescent play of different colours.

The under parts of the body are dusky,but clouded and relieved with green-gold. On each side of the head there are two white stripes. The upper tail coverts,or rump feathers previously mentioned,are very long and adorned with various colours beautiful eyes and arches. The details of the markings can not be enumerated except in a very long description and even then would be hard pushed to describe their beauty.

The ordinary length of the full grown Peacock from the tip of the bill to the extremity of the tail ,when in finest condition is about four feet. The female is considerably less,and her train is not only very short but lacks the resplendent beauty which adorn the male. Her crest too,is much shorter, and her whole plumage partakes of a sober cunereous hue.. her throat and neck are green and the spots on the side of the head are larger than those of the male.

As is the case with most birds in a state of domestication,Peacocks often exhibit considerable variety in their colours. Some,for instance, have the wings crossed with small striae,others have their wings ,cheek,and throat and anterior parts of the belly and also wing coverts white. Specimens that are completely albino have occurred,in which scarcely one departure from white could be discerned in the whole bird.

White peacock. Pavo cristatus'alba'


Peacock -a little history

Because of the number of peacocks that were found in India,especially in the rich wooded dells of the western ghauts,it was beyond doubt the native home of these splendid birds. One writer in the 1800,s wrote-

" Some of the places they inhabit there,are peculiar and picturesque in a very high degree. There are often circular valleys,or as one might call them cauldrons,so narrow that the eye of one standing on the brink can overlook their whole extent,so deep and so steep in the sides that it is impossible to descend into them,and with the outlet so rough and so choked with vegetation that a passage that way is equally difficult. In those singular places,Peacocks may often be seen in swarms,and the brilliancy of their colours adds generally to the other characteristics of those curious places"



Hybrid Peacock Pavo cristatus x P.muticus


Peacock lifestyle and habits

In their natural state Peacocks feed upon the ground between trees,but they take to the trees,sometimes very near the top of the tree,to rest during the day and to sleep at night. In the UK and other similar climes,they are very hardy,braving,out of doors,all the changes in the weather,roosting in trees or seeking some humble shelter of the common fowls. Although they are natives of tropical climes there are records which reveal they were found 'wild' in forests of northern Europe,having escaped from captivity and finding the forests congenial to their habits.

When in the wild and native localities of the south ,the Peahen,as the female id called, was described as breeding only once in the year. But the accounts state that the eggs were numerous consisting of up to twenty in a hatch. The eggs are well concealed not only from birds of prey and other creatures such as snakes, but also from the male which is very apt to destroy them.

In the northern climes and in a domestic state the hen is not nearly so prolific. The numbers of her eggs seldom exceed five or six,and her task of incubation varies from twenty five to thirty days,according to the temperature and other factors.

When pleased or excited and in the sight of females,the male erects his tail,unfolds his feathers and frequently turns slowly around as if to catch the sun beams in every direction,accompanying the movement with a hollow murmering. His cry otherwise is very unpleasant ,which id frequently repeated. he sheds his plumes every year,at such times he seeks out obscure retreats only the returning spring renews his lustre.

The young tend to acquire their beautiful adult plumage in the third year.They are long lived birds. These birds were known to thrive in North America notwithstanding the severity and duration of the winter season. In very cold climes,however, they seem incapable of very extensive flights. But they roost aloft in trees or on the tops of houses or steeples from where they utter their discordant cry.

Peacocks and chickens



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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Deb, they are beautiful birds .It is good to hear of your experiences with birds. Glad you enjoyed this. Thank you for visiting.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Your pheasants are breathtaking. I have met a few domestic peacocks in these parts, and can emulate the call of which you speak. The males have answered me, and followed me about, like children. I have born witness to the roosting in trees and find them most interesting. I even had the opportunity to meet and photograph a lovely, yellow chick.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hello my friend, so glad you liked this hub they are beautiful birds. Thank you for visiting and for the vote up both of which are appreciated. Hope all is well with you and your part of he world. Best wishes to you.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful and I love this hub. Bird is one of my favorite animal. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. Voted up!


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