While uncommon, Lady Amherst’s Pheasants are widespread across their large range. Their conservation status is considered secure. Their popularity as aviary birds also provides a captive population, although they have often hybridised with Golden Pheasants in captivity.
Amazing Lady Amherst’s Pheasants
Lady Amherst’s Pheasants are brilliantly coloured birds with shy and secretive habits. The magnificent plumage of the males have made them popular aviary birds throughout the world. They are named after Lady Amherst, who first sent the birds to London in the early 1800s. They are closely related to the better-known Golden Pheasant.
Like all pheasants, the males have showy, colourful plumage while the females are mottled brown. The males have very long grey tails, black and silver heads, and red, blue, white and yellow patches on their bodies. The feathers on the necks of pheasants comprise the ‘cape’ that is raised during displays to females.
Lady Amherst’s Pheasants live in dense undergrowth where they forage for seeds, leaves and insects on the ground. At night they roost in trees. They have long legs but relatively small wings and prefer to run rather than fly away from danger.
They are rarely seen in the wild despite being widespread across their range. Their elusive nature means that their biology is known mostly from captive animals. Male Lady Amherst’s Pheasants are not monogamous and may breed with several females. The females lay a clutch of 6–12 eggs and rear the chicks with no assistance from their father. The eggs hatch after three weeks of incubation. Young pheasants are feathered and forage for themselves. They attain full adult plumage when they are two years old.