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cline01 (1K)

Blue Eared-Pheasant

(Crossoptilon auritum)


Crossoptilon auritum
Photo by Sara Whitby

Range: Central China

Habitat: Coniferous forests up to 11,500 feet

Description: Distinctive and easily identified. The top of the head is covered with velvety black feathers, the "ears" are white and start beneath the chin and extend back over the ears. The facial skin is scarlet red. The rest of the body is bluish-gray. Immature birds are mottled gray-brown and will attain adult plumage by four months. Sexes are similar, but can be distinguished by looking at the spur. The spurs on the males are larger and round. The female's are much smaller and are oblong in shape. The spurs will begin to be noticeable at about four months of age.

Status in Wild: Stable and the most common of the genus. Not endangered or threatened at this time.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: The most commonly seen Eared-Pheasant in captivity. It is unknown how recently new imported blood has been introduced into American aviaries.

Breeding Season: April through June

Breeding Age: While first year birds will lay, breed and are sometimes fertile, breeding results are best obtained with second year birds.

Clutch Size: 6 to 12

Incubation Period: 26 days

Misc. Aviculture Notes: The Blue Eared Pheasant will become quite tame in captivity. I've heard from other breeders that would let extra males roam on free range and we have had several that would come up and eat out of our hands! Like the Impeyans, they have large, heavy bills that are used for digging. They will quickly destroy all plant life and till the soil looking for grubs, insects and roots. They are sensitive to dampness, so it is important to place their pens on well-drained ground, or place several inches of sand on the floor. Also due to their digging, it is wise to worm your Eared Pheasants often.

I have kept and bred Blue Eareds in pens measuring 20 feet wide by 12 feet long (although larger would be better). I placed several large logs for perching and lots of shade was provided from the summer sun. Since this species is from the mountainous areas, cold weather is not a problem for them, but do make sure they have access to shelter during severe winter storms. Be sure to supplement greens, tubers, nuts, dog kibble and wild bird seed-mix in addition to their regular diet.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

1 2 3 4

Photo Credits
(l to r): 1-2, Dan Cowell; 3, Matt Tuttle; 4, Myles Lamont.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Delacour, J. 1977. The Pheasants of the World. 2nd ed., World Pheasant Association and Spur Publications, Hindhead, U.K.
  • Delacour, J. 1978. Pheasants: Their Care and Breeding. T.F.H. Publishing, Neptune, NJ.
  • De Schauensee, R.M. 1984. The Birds of China. Smithsonian Press, Washington D.C.
  • Howman, K. 1991. Pheasants of the World: Their Breeding and Management. Hancock House Publishers, Surrey, B.C. Canada.
  • Johnsgard, P.A. 1999. The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History. 2nd ed., Smithsonian Press, Washington D.C.
  • Madge, S., McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.


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