Pheasants are a group of large birds from the order Galliformes. In some countries they are hunted as game.
They are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, with the males being highly ornate with bright colours and adornments such as wattles and long tails. They are usually larger than the females. Males play no part in rearing the young.
There are 35 species in 11 different genera. The most common is the Ringnecked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus torquatus) which is widespread throughout the world in the wild and in farm operations. Various other species are popular hobby animals such as the Golden Pheasant (C. pictus).
Many people may be surprised to learn that the Golden pheasant, which is one of the best known and easiest pheasants to keep and breed in a backyard aviary, is still not well understood in its natural homeland of China.
This is because in nature the pheasant lives on mountainous slopes, ledges, and rocky hills, often impenetrably covered with dense scrub bamboo, bushes, and woods.
The pheasants had a cyclical life, and at the end of each half millennium they supposedly burned themselves to ashes and then arose in renewed beauty and immortality.
Pheasants are polygynous and cocks defend a harem with several hens.
Pheasant chicks only stay a day in the nest so it is important to be there on the right day.
Spurs are one of the most variable ornaments of male pheasants and we found that males with longer spurs survived better than short spurred ones and this was not a by-product of male-male competition (Grahn 1993).
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