Elliot's Pheasant

(Syrmaticus ellioti)




Other Names: Bar-backed Pheasant, Chinese Barred-backed Pheasant, White-necked Long-tailed Pheasant

Range: Southeastern China

Subspecies: None.

Habitat: Thick mixed forests to about 6,200 feet.

Description: From Pheasants of the World, by John Delacour 1977 2nd ed, pp 241-242.

Male. Crown chestnut-brown, the eyebrows mixed with pale grey; cheeks and ear-coverts greyish brown; sides of neck whitish grey, the hind neck darker grey; chin, throat, and forneck black; mantle and upper breast bright rufous chestnut, each feather having a subterminal black band and a metallic coppery red fringe; a white bar on the scapulars; wing rufous chestnut with a broad steel-blue band on the lesser coverts; greater coverts with a black subterminal bar and broad white tips, forming a band accross the wing; secondaries and tertiaries chestnut with a black subterminal bar and a white or grey tip; primaries dull brown; lower back and rump black barred with white; tail of sixteen rectrices with broad bars of pale grey and rufous chestnut, seperated by irregular black lines; lower breast, abdomen, and vent white, the feathers with hidden dark brown bases; thighs chestnut-brown barred with white; feathers of the flanks chestnut with broad white tips; under tail-coverts black and chestnut. Iris brown to orange; bill horny yellow; legs grey.
Female. Crown rufous brown with blackish tips to the feathers; eyebrows, face, sides, and back of neck greyish fulvous; chin, throat, and foreneck black; mantle mottled, each feather being rufous brown with an arrow-shaped white shaft-marking and a broad subterminal black bar; scapulars fulvous brown with ashy tips; wing-coverts, tertiaries and secondaries vermiculated brown and black, with a large subterminal black patch and light greyish tip; primaries brownish black with interrupted rufous borders; lower back and rump rufous brown finely vermiculated with black; upper tail-coverts chestnut with peppered, pale brown tips, the longest with indistinct bars; central rectrices plain chestnut with black subterminal bars and broad white tips; tail short and bluntly pointed; upper breast mottled fufous brown with black subterminal spots or bars; feathers of lower breast, sides and flanks brown, with a white tip that becomes very broad on the abdomen which appears white; thighs brown; under tail coverts chestnut with broad blackish borders and white tips. Iris brown; bill horny brown; legs grey.
Immature. Like the female, but duller and the throat white; young males soon show barred tail feathers.

The other Syrmaticus hens can be distingushed from the Elliots by the following (adapted from Delacour 1977 and Johnsgard 1999):

  • Hume's Bar-tailed S. humiae humiae - Overall paler, no black throat, barred abdomen that is never pure white.
  • Mikado S. mikado - Darker than humiae and ellioti, white markings on mantle more distinctive, black and chestnut barring on the tail feathers also more distinctive.
  • Copper S. soemmerringi - More cinnamon in overall color, the streaks on the breast and mantle are much smaller than in humiae and ellioti, also lack the white shaft-streaks on the upper back.

    Status in Wild: Endangered. Range occurs in one of the most densely populated areas in China. Habitat loss major threat.

    Interesting Facts: Named after American ornithologist Daniel Giraud Elliot (1835-1915), author of A monograph of the Phasianidae (1872) and one of the founders of the American Ornithologists Union.

    Avicultural Data

    Status in Aviculture: Despite being an endangered species, their numbers in captivity are rather high and they are well established.

    Breeding Season: Can be as early as the middle of March in some locations, but usually April through June.

    Breeding Age: The males will attain their adult plumage the first year, but are usually not fertile until they are two. I have spoken with a breeder who has had first year hens lay fertile eggs with an older male.

    Clutch Size: 6 to 8 rosy-white eggs.

    Incubation Period: 25 days.

    Misc. Aviculture Notes: The males can sometimes be somewhat aggresive towards hens, so provide plenty of cover for the hen to escape. You may also want to clip the male's wings to allow the hen to get up high and away if needed.

    Like other species of this genus, provide roomy aviaries with plenty of cover. Elliot's males can be housed with up to three females, given they have pleny of room and nesting sites. This species is very hardy and can tolerate very low temperatures. They are a forest species, so direct sunlight could cause some problems. Aviaries should have ample shade during the warmest months.

    Elliot's have been known to cross with other Syrmaticus species, and the offspring is often fertile. As mentioned, the hens are so similar that many crosses were unintentional. Since little is known of its wild status, other than it being endangered, care must be taken so that we can preserve this species in captivity in its pure form.

    Elliot's can be sexed at a few weeks of age; males will have barred tail feathers, hens with plain, drab central tail feathers.


    Images

    Click on thumbnails for larger views.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

    Photo Credits
    (l to r): 1-4, Roman Kmicikewycz; 5-7, Jan Harteman; 8-9, Dan Cowell.


    Bibliography and Further Reading



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