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Mongolian ringneck-type
common pheasant cock
Scientific classification
Horsfield, 1821
Horsfield, 1821



Pheasants ( /ˈfɛzənt/ ) are birds of several genera within the subfamily Phasianinae, of the family Phasianidae in the order Galliformes. Though they can be found world over in introduced (and captive) populations, the pheasant genera native range is restricted to Asia.

Phasianinae subfamily of birds

The Phasianinae are a subfamily of the pheasant family (Phasianidae) of landfowl, the order Galliformes. The subfamily includes pheasants, tragopans, junglefowl, peafowl, and other similar birds. Although this subfamily was considered monophyletic and separated from the partridges, francolins, and Old World quails (Perdicinae) till the early 1990s, molecular phylogenies have shown that this two subfamilies actually constitute only one lineage. For example, some partridges (genus Perdix) are more closely affiliated to pheasants, whereas Old World quails and partridges from the genus Alectoris are closer to junglefowls.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Phasianidae family of birds

The Phasianidae are a family of heavy, ground-living birds, which includes pheasants, partridges, junglefowl, chickens, turkeys, Old World quail, and peafowl. The family includes many of the most popular gamebirds. The family is a large one, and is occasionally broken up into two subfamilies, the Phasianinae, and the Perdicinae. Sometimes, additional families and birds are treated as part of this family. For example, the American Ornithologists' Union includes the Tetraonidae (grouse), Numididae (guineafowl), and Meleagrididae (turkeys) as subfamilies in Phasianidae.

Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly decorated with bright colors and adornments such as wattles. Males are usually larger than females and have longer tails. Males play no part in rearing the young.

Sexual dimorphism condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs

Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs. The condition occurs in many animals and some plants. Differences may include secondary sex characteristics, size, weight, color, markings, and may also include behavioral and cognitive differences. These differences may be subtle or exaggerated, and may be subjected to sexual selection. The opposite of dimorphism is monomorphism.

Wattle (anatomy) fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds and mammals

A wattle is a fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds and mammals. A caruncle is defined as 'A small, fleshy excrescence that is a normal part of an animal's anatomy'. Within this definition, caruncles in birds include those found on the face, wattles, dewlaps, snoods and earlobes. Wattles are generally paired structures but may occur as a single structure when it is sometimes known as a dewlap. Wattles are frequently organs of sexual dimorphism. In some birds, caruncles are erectile tissue and may or may not have a feather covering.

Pheasants typically eat seeds and some insects.

The best-known is the common pheasant, which is widespread throughout the world, in introduced feral populations and in farm operations. Various other pheasant species are popular in aviaries, such as the golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus).

Common pheasant species of bird

The common pheasant is a bird in the pheasant family (Phasianidae). The genus name comes from Latin phasianus, "pheasant". The species name colchicus is Latin for "of Colchis", a country on the Black Sea where pheasants became known to Europeans.

Golden pheasant species of bird

The golden pheasant or Chinese pheasant is a gamebird of the order Galliformes and the family Phasianidae (pheasants). The genus name is from Ancient Greek khrusolophos, "with golden crest", and pictus is Latin for "painted" from pingere, "to paint".


According to the Oxford English Dictionary , the word "pheasant" ultimately comes from Phasis, the ancient name of what is now called the Rioni River in Georgia. It passed from Greek to Latin to French (spelled with an initial "f") then to English, appearing for the first time in English around the year 1299. [1]

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.

Rioni River river in Georgia

The Rioni or Rion River is the main river of western Georgia. It originates in the Caucasus Mountains, in the region of Racha and flows west to the Black Sea, entering it north of the city of Poti. The city of Kutaisi, once the ancient city of Colchis, lies on its banks. It drains the western Transcaucasus into the Black Sea while its sister, the Kura River, drains the eastern Transcaucasus into the Caspian Sea.

Georgia (country) Country in the Caucasus region

Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometres (26,911 sq mi), and its 2017 population is about 3.718 million. Georgia is a unitary parliamentary republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.

Species in taxonomic order

This list is ordered to show presumed relationships between species.

Blood pheasant species of bird

The blood pheasant is the only species in genus Ithaginis of the pheasant family. This relatively small, short-tailed pheasant is widespread and fairly common in eastern Himalayas, ranging across India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and northern Myanmar. Since the trend of the population appears to be slowly decreasing, the species has been evaluated as Least Concern by IUCN in 2009.

Koklass pheasant species of bird

The koklass is a species of Galliform, being closely related to progenitive grouse that lived during the Miocene. They are more distantly related to pheasants. Koklass are the only species in the monotypic genus Pucrasia. Both the words koklass and pucrasia have been onomatopœically derived from the bird's territorial call. Koklass are boreal adapted species which separate into three distinct species groups. They are one of the few galliforms that regularly fly uphill and are capable of sustained flights of many miles. They are monogamous with a slight tendency toward social polyandry. Both parents rear the chicks. Koklass are largely vegetarian for much of the year consuming pine nuts, pine shoots, bamboo shoots and seeds. They are highly insectivorous during the warmer months that coincide with nesting and chick-rearing. During this phase of their life cycle they live almost exclusively on ants but also are documented consuming catkins, pollen and fruit.

Kalij pheasant species of bird

The kalij pheasant is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills, from Pakistan to western Thailand. Males are rather variable depending on the subspecies involved, but all have an at least partially glossy bluish-black plumage, while females are overall brownish. Both sexes have a bare red face and greyish legs. It is generally common and widespread, though three of its eastern subspecies are considered threatened and moffitti is virtually unknown in the wild.

Pheasant fowling, "Showing how to catch pheasants", facsimile of a miniature in the manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (fourteenth century). Pheasant Fowling Showing how to catch Pheasants Fac simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the Livre du Roy Modus Fourteenth Century.png
Pheasant fowling, "Showing how to catch pheasants", facsimile of a miniature in the manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (fourteenth century).
Cheer pheasant pair in Himalaya, India Catreus wallichii.jpg
Cheer pheasant pair in Himalaya, India

Previous classifications

Euplocamus and Gennceus are older names more or less corresponding to the current Lophura.

These old genera were used for:

VernacularHume & MarshallFinn: Sporting BirdsFinn: Game BirdsContemporary
Vieillot's crested fireback E. viellotiLophura rufa (sic)L. ignita rufa
Black-backed kalij E. melanonotusG. melanonotusL. leucomelanos melanota
Common or white-crested kalij E. albocristatusG. albocristatusL. leucomelanos hamiltoni
Nepal kalij E. leucomelanusG. leucomelanusL. leucomelanos leucomelanos
Purple, Horsfield's or black-breasted kalij E. horsfieldiG. horsfieldiL. leucomelanos lathami
Lineated kalij E. lineatusG. lineatus also: Burmese silver pheasantL. leucomelanos lineata
Anderson's silver pheasant ?G. andersoni, considered hybrid of L. nycthemera and L. l. lineataL. nycthemera andersoni (invalid)
Crawfurd's silver pheasant (or Crawford's? )E. andersoniconsidered a further cross of Anderson's and L. l. lineata?
Crawfurd's kalij (same as C.'s silver pheasant?)?G. andersoniL. leucomelanos crawfurdi
Cuvier's kalij ?G. cuvieri?
Oates's kalij ?G. oatesiL. leucomelanos oatesi
Whitehead's silver pheasant ?G. whiteheadi?
Swinhoe's kalij ?G. swinhoiiL. swinhoii

Related Research Articles

Galliformes Order of birds

Galliformes is an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds that includes turkey, grouse, chicken, New World quail and Old World quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, francolin, junglefowl and the Cracidae. The name derives from "gallus", Latin for "cock" or "rooster". Common names are gamefowl or gamebirds, landfowl, gallinaceous birds, or galliforms. "Wildfowl" or just "fowl" are also often used for the Galliformes, but usually these terms also refer to waterfowl (Anseriformes), and occasionally to other commonly hunted birds. This group has about 290 species, one or more of which are found in essentially every part of the world's continents. They are rarer on islands, and in contrast to the closely related waterfowl, are essentially absent from oceanic islands—unless introduced there by humans. Several species have been domesticated during their long and extensive relationships with humans.

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a study of birds conducted by Charles Sibley and Burt Monroe. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

Chinese bamboo partridge species of bird

The Chinese bamboo partridge is a small Galliform bird. It is one of two species in the genus Bambusicola, along with the mountain bamboo partridge of the Himalayas. Long believed to be a relative of Perdix, scientists established that bamboo partridge are close relatives of the long-billed partridge and junglefowl.

Salvadoris pheasant species of bird

The Salvadori's pheasant is a landfowl bird of genus Lophura, native to Indonesia. It is found in the mountain rainforests of Sumatra. Thus it is also known as the Sumatran pheasant. This bird was first described in 1879 by the Italian ornithologist Tommaso Salvadori. The species name inornata means "without ornament".

Palawan peacock-pheasant species of bird

The Palawan peacock-pheasant is a medium-sized bird in the family Phasianidae.

Peacock-pheasant genus of birds

The peacock-pheasants are a bird genus, Polyplectron, of the family Phasianidae, consisting of eight species. They are colored inconspicuously, relying on heavily on crypsis to avoid detection. When threatened, peacock-pheasants will alter their shapes using specialised plumage that when expanded reveals numerous iridescent orbs. The birds also vibrate their plume quills further accentuating their aposematism. Peacock-pheasants exhibit well developed metatarsal spurs. Older individuals may have multiple spurs on each leg. These kicking thorns are used in self-defense.

Bornean peacock-pheasant species of bird

The Bornean peacock-pheasant is a medium-sized pheasant. It is probably the rarest and certainly the least known of all peacock-pheasants. This elusive bird is endemic to lowland forests of Borneo.

Malayan peacock-pheasant species of bird

The Malayan peacock-pheasant also known as crested peacock-pheasant or Malaysian peacock-pheasant, is a medium-sized pheasant of the galliform family Phasianidae. The closely related Bornean peacock-pheasant was formerly included here as a subspecies, but as understood today, P. malacense is monotypic.

Crested argus species of bird

The crested argus are large and spectacular pheasant like-peafowl with dark-brown-spotted black and buff plumage, a heavy pink bill, brown irises and blue skin around the eyes. The head has two crests; the hind crest, which extends down the occiput, is erected when alarmed and during intentional behaviors including pair bonding and courtship displays. The male has a broad and greatly elongated tail of twelve feathers. The tail covert of the male is the longest of any bird and is believed to contain the longest feathers to occur in a wild bird; the Reeves's pheasant has tail feathers of similar length but which are considerably narrower. The tail coverts measure up to 1.73 m (5.7 ft) in length, giving the bird a total length of 1.9–2.39 m (6.2–7.8 ft).

Bronze-tailed peacock-pheasant species of bird

The bronze-tailed peacock-pheasant is also known as the Sumatran peacock-pheasant. It is an Indonesian bird.

Mountain peacock-pheasant species of bird

The mountain peacock-pheasant also known as Rothschild's peacock-pheasant or mirror pheasant is a medium-sized, up to 65 cm long, blackish brown pheasant with small ocelli and long graduated tail feathers. Both sexes are similar. The male has metallic blue ocelli on upperparts, green ocelli on tail of twenty feathers and two spurs on legs. Female has black ocelli on upperparts, unspurred legs and tail of eighteen feathers. The female is smaller and duller than male.

Crested fireback species of bird

The crested fireback is a medium-sized, up to 70 cm long, forest pheasant with a peacock-like dark crest, bluish black plumage, reddish brown rump, black outer tail feathers, red iris and bare blue facial skin. The female is a brown bird with short crest, blue facial skin and spotted black-and-white below.

Grey peacock-pheasant species of bird

The grey peacock-pheasant, also known as Burmese peacock-pheasant, is a large Asian member of the order Galliformes. It is the national bird of Myanmar.

Crestless fireback species of bird

The crestless fireback is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat destruction and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being "vulnerable".

Birds of Eden

Birds of Eden is the world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary, located near Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, South Africa. The mesh dome of the sanctuary was built over 2.3 hectares of indigenous forest, and is up to 55 metres (180 ft) above ground level. 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) of walkways, about 75% of which are elevated, let visitors see the birds at all levels of the aviary.

Dhodial Pheasantry is a pheasantry and breeding center for several species of pheasants situated in Mansehra District, Pakistan. It has been set up for the purposes of research, conservation, tourism, and education. The pheasantry has around 250 exhibits providing shelter to around 4,000 birds.


  1. "pheasant". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)