The spectacular male Golden pheasant was originally from the mountain areas of China, but now lives in the wild in lots of places across the world including England.
It has a posh name like all animals and plants which is in both Greek and Latin. From Ancient Greek comes ‘khrusolophos’ meaning ‘with a golden crest’ and from Latin ‘pictus’ which means ‘to paint’.

Its tail is two thirds of its whole body length, but its body and head are the most showy bits. It does look a little bit like someone has been playing a game of consequences and has made up a fantasy bird in a game. It has a brilliant golden crest on its head and a golden bottom with a bright red body and an orange cape around its neck with black stripes on. To make things even more incredible when it is trying its hardest to look dapper and attract a nice female companion, it spreads out its cape so the feathers make an orange and black striped pattern that covers all of its head except for its beady eyes.

The pheasant molts every year, this means like lots of birds they have a change of feathers and loose the old ones to grow a new set. This leaves the fancy male particularly strange to look at. The farm staff have nicknamed him The Emperor because of the story about the Emperor who was tricked into buying what he was told was a glorious set of clothes for a big royal celebration, but he really had no clothes on at all. But all his subjects were so afraid to mention the fact that he was absolutely naked, that they kept on pretending to admire his suit. All except for one child who was very very honest and shouted out, ‘Look at the Emperor, he’s got no clothes on!’ And everyone suddenly felt able to tell the truth about what they were really seeing instead of what they were told that they were seeing. It’s a very good story.

The female bird is far more sensibly dressed. Like other female birds she has a sensible approach to feathers and has plumage in colours that camouflage her so that she can really look almost invisible as she sits on the nest to hatch her eggs and then care for her chicks.

Golden pheasants like to peck at insects and berries and stuff from the woodland floor and sleep, roost, in the trees at night. They don’t fly much but can run quite well, though they will make a noisy flight into the sky if they are startled by anything.

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!

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It’s been a week since the arrival of our golden pheasant chicks and in just one week they’ve grown and developed so much! You can still see them near pets corner in their brooder and venturing out into their new run built by our incredibly handy volunteer, Duncan. They still pop back under the heat lamp for warmth, but you’ll probably catch them out and about exploring their enclosure as their confidence and strength grows. At only 7 days, they’re already developing wing feathers and are very inquisitive! More photos on the next page.

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