Having completed their annual moult, our Madarin drake (Aix galericulata) drake and Golden pheasant cock (Chrysolophus pictus) are looking beautiful in their bright new plumage. They’ve also been making a bit of a racket in Pheasant Crescent and you may have heard some rather unusual sounds and seen some unusual behaviour in their aviary! These calls are part of the territorial defense and courtship of the two species and are fantastically dramatic, from the deep almost bubbling ‘song’ of the mandarin to the frenzied elaborate dance of the male golden pheasant complete with specialized feathers that move across his face. See more photos and videos on the next page!
After an awkward summer of growing in new feathers, both of the boys of Pheasant Crescent are back to their finest in bright new plumage and both are also exhibiting some fascinating natural behaviour that you can both see and hear if you watch them quietly. During courtship, the male golden pheasant dances around the females (called hens), making high-pitched chirping noises as he does so. As he runs around the females, he draws his beautiful golden neck and cheek feathers across his beak, almost like a cape while making a high-pitched metallic sound. This is all part of an elaborate courtship display to the drab coloured hens, which are rather better camouflaged than the showy male. You can see him in action in the video below! It’s a bit hard to hear him over the other birds, but you can hear more golden pheasant vocalisations here.
So be sure to keep an ear and an eye out the aviaries the next time you’re in Pets Corner, you never know what you might find!