Most pheasants have long tails. The typical male has brilliant plumage which it displays in elaborate courtship rituals to the less colorful female. Pheasants have short wings and do not fly high or for long periods. They eat seeds, berries, tender shoots, and insects. The females lay from 2 to 20 buff or white eggs, usually in shallow, grass-lined nests on the ground. One group—the tragopans—nests in trees.

The tragopanThe tragopan is a variety of pheasant that nests in trees.

Beautifully colored pheasants are often seen in zoos and gardens. The Reeves pheasant, predominantly yellow and black, may reach a length of eight feet (2.4 m), including the tail. The golden pheasant is gold and green on its upper parts and red underneath. The Lady Amherst pheasant is green, purple, and silver.

The Lady AmherstThe Lady Amherst pheasant is green, purple, and silver.
Who Has a Crown of Gold?

It is the golden pheasant, of course. The male golden pheasant has bright yellow-gold feathers on the top of his head that form his “crown.”

The male golden pheasant has many brightly colored feathers on his body, as well. He has a bright red breast and bright blue feathers on his wings. The male’s ruff—the layer of feathers that stand out on his neck—looks something like a cape. The bird fans the ruff over his head and beak to attract the female’s attention.

This pheasant is found in mountain habitats of Tibet and in central China. But, people have brought this rare and beautiful bird to zoos all over the world.

How Can Pheasants Take a Bath in Dust?

When people take a bath, they get into a tub full of water. Many birds take a bath in water, as well. But, when water is not available, some birds take a bath in dust. Pheasants often take dust baths. Some kinds of quail do, too.

People would not feel very clean if they took a dust bath. But birds’ bodies are different. Birds are covered with feathers, and those feathers keep a bird warm. But feathers also make a cozy home for lice and other parasites (PAR uh sytz). A parasite is an organism that lives on another organism, called a host, sometimes harming the host.

When a bird takes a bath in dust, the powdery dirt goes all through the bird’s feathery coat. This helps straighten the feathers, and that makes them better at keeping the bird warm. The powdery dirt may also drive out the insects and other parasites hiding in the feathers.

Pheasants belong to the family Phasianidae. The ring-necked pheasant and the English pheasant are Phasianus colchicus; the Reeves, Syrmaticus reevesi; the golden, Chrysolophus pictus; the Lady Amherst, C. amherstiae.