PHASANES (Phasianus), a genus of birds of the pheasant family. Length up to 85 cm. Males are brightly colored, with a metallic sheen on feathers, females are sandy gray. 2 types. Green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) lives in Japan. Common pheasant (P. colchicus) is distributed from the Ciscaucasia and the Volga delta through Central and Central Asia to Primorye and Southeast China. Inhabits forests with undergrowth, in thickets along river banks or in bushes along the edges of fields. Nests on the ground, in a clutch of 8–12 eggs. The common pheasant is a valuable hunting bird; in many countries it is bred in hunting farms.
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Pheasants are a vast and diverse group of birds belonging to the Fazanov family of the same name. Along with pheasants, this family includes black grouse, partridges, guinea fowl, and turkeys. Their closest relatives are peacocks, tragopans and wild shrub chickens. In total, there are 35 species of pheasants, united in 11 genera.
Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus).
These are medium sized birds. Body length is 1-1.5 m, half of which is on the tail, weight is 1-3 kg. Pheasants have a characteristic appearance for all chicken birds: a small head, a strong sharp beak, a relatively long neck, short wings and not too long legs. Many pheasant species have naked, brightly colored areas of skin on their heads, as well as additional outgrowths. Unlike wild chickens, pheasants do not have a ridge on the top of their heads, but there are “earrings” on the sides of their heads. The legs of the pheasants are half-feathered; they do not have spurs like roosters. The legs of pheasants are strong and adapted for running, but the wings, on the contrary, are rather weak. Only in representatives of the genus of eared pheasants, sexual dimorphism is not expressed - both males and females have a modest, almost uniform color. In all other species, males are extremely variegated, females look more modest.
Male and female green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor).
Most often, feathers have a striped or scaly pattern, sometimes with a shiny overflow. A distinctive feature of these birds is a very long tail. Its shape varies greatly. In most species, the tail is formed by straight, stiff feathers and resembles a sword.
Diamond pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae).
The tail of eared pheasants is formed by lush feathers located in a vertical plane (like a rooster). The voice of these birds resembles a quiet clucking; pheasants, even during the mating season, do not emit loud inviting cries.
One of the pheasant species is Lophura bulweri.
The habitat of pheasants is concentrated in Asia; this group of birds reaches the greatest diversity in the vastness of China and Southeast Asia. The common pheasant reaches the Far Eastern taiga in the north, and enters the territory of Southern Europe in the west. Also, this species is widely acclimatized in other European countries (for example, in the British Isles). All pheasants are forest dwellers. They prefer to settle in dense forests, interspersed with glades, reed or shrub thickets.
Golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) in the forest.
These birds live sedentary, keeping alone for most of the year. Only common pheasants, whose range extends in the temperate zone, flock to winter in flocks of 10-50 individuals.
Pheasants are daytime birds, in the daytime they collect food slowly moving around the site, they spend the night hiding in the thickets.
They nest on the ground, digging a shallow hole in the ground, which is lined with a small amount of grass. In case of danger, pheasants run quickly, deftly maneuvering between trees and bushes, and only if the enemy is very close, the pheasants rise on the wing. The takeoff of these birds - sharp, explosive - often discourages ground predators, but does not save them from danger in the air. The fact is that pheasants, like all chicken birds, are not adapted to long-term flight, therefore they become easy prey for air aces - hawks, falcons.
The common pheasant listens warily to rustles in the grass.
Pheasants feed on mixed food: their diet includes various types of insects, grains, seeds and buds of plants, less often small vertebrates (rodents, lizards). Pheasants living in the northern parts of the range accumulate fat reserves in autumn, which they consume in winter without food.
Pheasants are polygamous birds. This means that the male during the mating season can mate with several females. In this regard, pheasants are characterized by vivid mating rituals. The male in his area publishes inviting cries. Since the voice of pheasants is not loud, the male reinforces his call with a loud flapping of his wings, making a lot of noise in the forest. Females attracted by the noise come to the male's plot. Naturally, the largest number of "ladies" are collected by the strongest males. The rest of the "gentlemen" go in search of the chosen ones. Thus, the paths of the males are crossed and fierce fights ensued.
Pheasants fight like roosters, colliding in the air with flapping of their wings.
Females lay 7-18 eggs and incubate them on their own. The male does not take part in raising the offspring. The female sits on the nest tightly, that is, almost continuously, leaving it for a short while to feed. During incubation (21-27 days), she even loses weight. Chicks hatch amicably and, having barely dried, are ready to follow their mother. At first, pheasants feed on insects, then gradually switch to plant food. They grow quickly, after 1.5 months they are able to fly, and become fully adults by 4-6 months.
In nature, pheasants have many enemies. On the ground, foxes, wild forest and jungle cats, jackals, in some places raccoons and raccoon dogs hunt for them. Nests can be ravaged by martens and snakes. Falcons, kites, hawks are waiting in the air for pheasants. In addition, pheasants are excellent game. Their meat is not inferior in quality to chicken, so they are often hunted. The main commercial species are common and green pheasants. These birds are harvested from under arms, often using cop dogs to help. As a popular game, the common pheasant was introduced to various European countries and successfully acclimatized in areas with little snowy winters.
Elliot's Spotted Pheasant (Syrmaticus ellioti) frequently populates cultural landscapes.
Other types of pheasants are much less common and have no commercial value. But many tropical pheasants have become popular inhabitants of zoos and poultry yards, their bright colors make them a real decoration of the garden.
Silver pheasant (Lophura nycthemera).
By the way, pheasants easily interbreed with each other and with chickens. Nevertheless, some endemic pheasant species have become very rare in nature and need special protection.
Look at the mating courtship of a golden pheasant.
Read about the animals mentioned in this article: wild chickens, peacocks, foxes, wild forest cats, snakes.