Cheer Pheasant

(Catreus wallichi)

Catreus wallichi

Catreus wallichi
Photo courtesy of John Corder

Other Names: Wallich's Pheasant

Range: The Himalayas, fragmented range from Afganistan to Nepal; continue to decline.

Habitat: Highland forests and scrublands from 4,000 to 10,000 Feet.

Brief Description: Drab in comparison to other pheasant species, both sexes share the long gray crests. Plumage overall buffy and gray, with black barring; the tail is long and barred buff, gray and brown. Female very similar to the male; lacking spurs, facial skin smaller, duller in plumage and slightly smaller in overall size.

Status in Wild: Endangered; see link provided to BirdLife International for complete information.

Interesting Facts: Despite similarities to the genus Syrmaticus, the Cheer Pheasant is the sole member of the genus Catreus. Re-introductions of captive bred birds have taken place in Pakistan by the WOrld Pheasant Association. The scientific name, wallichi is after the Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich who worked in India.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Not popular with some fanciers due to their plumage, but the species is well represented in American avicutlure.

Breeding Season: Late April to June.

Breeding Age: First year.

Clutch Size: 9 to 12.

Incubation Period: 26 days

Misc. Aviculture Notes: Great diggers, will need to be kept on well drained and/or sandy or rock covered ground. Many keepers will build a wire frame to place on the ground to allow grass to grow through, thus eliminating the Cheer from destroying the ground. Care should be done when doing this to ensure the birds do not damage their nails or beaks. It is not recommended to do this through the entire aviary, just a small portion. Since they are diggers, they will need to be wormed on a regular basis. Most Cheer are kept in pairs for breeding as they are typically monogamous in the wild. They are winter hardy and able to withstand quite cold temperatures. They do have great personalities and are fun birds to keep and work with.

Visitor Submitted Notes: The following submitted by John Corder in 1997:

Cheer pheasants have been declining in the wild in their natural range for many years. They are extirpated from much of their local range. The World Pheasant Association has long worked with WPA Pakistan to keep this species alive there, and many aviculturists in Europe who keep this species have donated eggs and young birds for return to Pakistan over many years. We find that they are the very best at parent-rearing, with both adults being fully involved in raising their chicks. This particular pair raised 96 chicks by themselves over the course of ten years. They are not as brightly coloured as many pheasant species, but they are our favourites, and they have taught us much about parent-rearing which we have been able to apply to other species. They taught us that not all pheasants sit on their eggs all of the time, and they often leave them for hours at a time to get stone cold. Yet still they always hatch on time- 26 days, plus one day under the hen. Their major disadvantage for breeders is their very loud territorial call. Ours have been heard almost half a mile away at four a.m. as the sun comes up during the breeding season. Thank heaven for our very understanding and conservation conscious neighbours.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

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Photo Credits
(l to r): 1, Randy Ames; 2, Roman Kmicikewycz; 3, John Corder; 4-7, Scott Vowers.

Bibliography and Further Reading


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