The Silver Pheasant, Lophura nycthemera,inhabits to the mountain forests of Mainland Southeast Asia and China. There are fifteen subspecies of Silver Pheasant, distributed from east Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China to the island of Hainan.
Widespread and common in most of its ranges, the Silver Pheasant is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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It is a beautiful large, up to 125cm, white pheasant with bare red facial skin, black below and red legs.
Male is adorned with white, long, patterned tail and black dropping crest on its crown. At least two years is needed to attain full male plumage.
Female is olive brown with black-tipped crest.
The nominate subspecies Lophura nycthemera nycthemera of southeastern China and northern Vietnam is the largest and whitest race. While the southern subspecies have a various amount of grey or black markings and shorter tail.
Keeping and Breeding the Silver Pheasant
Courtesy of Alan Downie and Zoë A. Hunter
Allandoo Pheasantry – Breeders of Ornamental Pheasants in Southwest Scotland
Housing / Keeping:
They are super birds in the aviary. The cocks, like most of the pheasants, like to put on a good display during the breeding season. They are hardy birds which are very easy to look after.
We have plenty of cover in the pens as the cocks can be aggressive to their mates although with our birds we have not found this to be the case.
They have a liking for peanuts* and grain as well as some fruit, especially berries, but our birds have ignored any live food given to them. Fresh water should be provided daily.
Hens can lay up to around 20 eggs in a season which are incubated for 25 – 26 days. They start laying at the end of March or beginning of April and will continue until around the end of May.
The biggest problem is the availability of unrelated stock in the UK as there are very few breeders. In fact I would really like to hear from other breeders so that we can increase our numbers in the future.
Sexing Silver Pheasant Chicks
Males have fine white lines showing firstly on the tail and then on the wings. This should be noticeable by the time they are about three months old.
Within the next couple of months the new feathers coming through will show much more of the detailed markings.
The hen has a crest similar to the cock but she is fairly plain with medium brown feathers although the breast feathers are paler and almost look dusted with white chalk.
These pheasants are fairly quiet and will allow the plants in their aviary to flourish. They won’t dig them up or eat every leaf as it appears.
Although at the moment, in this country, they are quite rare, they are bound to become much more popular and I see no reason why they can not be kept by a novice, as they have proven themselves to us to be excellent aviary birds needing no special care whatsoever.