Animal of the Month – Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant

The Golden Pheasant is often called Chinese Pheasant because of its origins in China. This stunning bird is native to central and southern China. It thrives in areas of the dense cover that forests and mountains provide. In the wild, the birds eat an omnivore diet consisting of insects and grubs, as well as bamboo shoots, seeds, and some flowers.

The Goldens in captivity usually eat a variety of insects and seeds. They love some berries – and the tomatoes I give them are a special treat. They need access to clean water, as does any animal. They are not especially difficult to keep and some people think they are splendid pets. Interestingly, some pheasants can form a bond of sorts with their owners. When our Goldens see us with treats in hand, they are often bold enough to come close enough to pet. However, they don’t enjoy anyone trying to catch them – and who would? If you have children, please teach them to be gentle with your pheasants and other “livestock”. While they normally won’t attack anyone, they can be physically harmed by the chase.

Golden Pheasant males, when in full color, will be a deep red/orange with a bright yellow crest. The females are dull in color, a mottled tan or brown. Both sexes have yellow legs and yellow bills. Full sun can have a bleaching effect upon the bird’s vibrant color, hence it is important to provide shaded areas for captive pheasants. In fact, in their native China, the wild Golden Pheasants spend a great deal of time under the thick cover that the mountains provide.

The “Red” Golden Pheasant is purported to be the original color and the variations (yellow golden, buff, etc.) are thought to be mutations as the result of cross breeding between Lady Amherst Pheasants and Golden Pheasants. In fact, their territories in China overlap somewhat and the birds are quite similar. In captivity, Lady Amhersts and Goldens have been cross bred successfully and they must be kept apart by breeders who intend to keep the bloodlines pure. Notice the red streak on the crest of the Lady Amherst Pheasant below. If you see this red streak in a Golden Pheasant’s crest, you can infer that the bloodline has been compromised.

Lady Amherst Pheasant

A fun piece of trivia that I ran across today concerning Golden Pheasants is that they may have been brought to America as early as 1740, which would make them the first pheasant species brought to the colonies. It is also thought that George Washington kept some at Mt. Vernon.

Golden Pheasants lay somewhere in the range of 8-12 eggs per clutch, and the incubation time is roughly 22 days. We have found that the pheasants we keep do not incubate their eggs well, nor are they particularly good parents. We take the eggs and hatch them with an incubator. After that, we hand raise the babies using a brooder. They are not fully mature until their second year when they will be in full color and able to reproduce well.

Life-Springs-Farm and Aviary’s breeding rooster is descended from imported San Diego Zoo wild stock. His colors are vibrant and very pure. The rooster in the middle in the picture below is our breeding male.

Golden Pheasants

We will be bringing some young Golden Pheasants with us to the Shipshewana (Indiana) swap meet October 17, 2020. If you are in the area, please look us up.


Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working full-time as a medical courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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