Lady Amherst's Pheasant
Scientific Name: Chrysolophus amherstiae
The Lady Amherst’s pheasant has been known to hybridize with its close relative, the golden pheasant, and produce much sought after offspring.
The Lady Amherst’s pheasant is named after Lady Sarah Amherst, husband of William Pitt Amherst (Governor-General of India from 1823 to 1828), who first introduced the species to Britain in the early 1800s.
STATUS: This species is listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: The Lady Amherst’s pheasant is native to forested areas and bamboo thickets of southwestern China and Burma.
DIET: The typical diet for this beautiful bird includes grains, fruits, greens, and, on occasion, small insects.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The males of this species are more colorful and are larger than the females, measuring between 50 to 65 inches in length (while the females are only about 26 to 30 inches long). The females are typically a dull brown, and do not have much color variation across the body. The male, on the other hand, is a very colorful and contrasting bird, typically with a red crest atop its head, a black and metallic green throat, a white chest and rear neck, back feathers ranging anywhere from yellow, white, red, blue, or even green (each with small black accents on the tips), bluish black metallic wings, and long tail feathers that extend over 30 inches past the end of its body. These tail feathers are typically white with different black markings outlying each individual feather, giving the tail a patterned, interwoven look. Despite its beautiful, eye-popping display, this bird’s colors help it blend in well with its natural environment and often make it difficult to find by the curious human eye or even possible predators.
A Not So “Frequent” Flyer
Pheasants are part of the Galliformes family, made up of domestic, ground-feeding birds that do not typically fly. These birds use their bright colors and visually stunning feathers for courtship, communication, running, and fighting rather than for flying (like most birds). The Lady Amherst’s pheasant, being part of this vast family of landfowl, is able to dart extremely quickly and, when it moves its wings with short, quick beats, may even be able to elevate itself just above the ground. Due to evidence showing that these birds can pull themselves off the ground if necessary, some theories about this bird’s inability to fly points to their fairly large size rather than the bird’s inability or unwillingness to do so. Even though this bird may not be the best flyer, it is a great sprinter and seems content strutting its beautiful colors firmly planted on the ground.