Green Pheasant

(Phasianus versicolor)




Phasianus versicolor


John Gould (1804-1881). The Birds of Asia.


Other Names: Japanese Pheasant, Versicolor Pheasant

Range: Japan; introduced to the Hawaiian Islands and western Europe.

Subspecies: Three: Southern Green Pheasant (P. versicolor versicolor), Pacific Green Pheasant (P. v. tamensis), Northern Green Pheasant (P. v. robustipes).

Habitat: Light wooded areas near cultivated lands and meadows.

Description: Since this species is very similar to some of the mutations of the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), I have included the descriptions of Delacour (PP 297-299, Pheasants of the World 1977):

The males have the crown green, the throat blue, and the neck purplish violet; the mantle is green with a few small buff vermiculations on its lower part; back and rump green, much tinged with olive or blusih grey; rectrices dark olive with broad, black bars and pinkish fringes; scapulars barred black and pale buff with a chestnut fringe and a green tip; wing-coverts light grey tinged with blue green, the greater part much marked with chestnut; flight feathers as in other True Pheasants; underparts dark green slightly tinged with blue or purple, the feathers, as those of the mantle, deeply indented. Size small: wing: 215-243 mm; tail: 270-425 mm; tarsus: 64-78 mm; culmen: 29-38 mm.
The female is more strongly mottled than that of colchicus; the dark part of the feathers of the mantle is black and extends right up to the narrow, pale brown border, and it has a green sheen near the tip; the under parts are more vermiculated and blotched than in any other form of True Pheasant. Wing: 195-220 mm; tail 207-275 mm; tarsus: 55-64; culmen: 25-33 mm.

The Three subspecies vary slightly: versicolor is the darkest; from James Pfarr - "Powder blue rump wing, clear crown. more met. shine, lacks thick tail edging". tanensis lighter than versicolor, with more blue and purple in the overall plumage. robustipes is lighter than the other two, the crown has more bronze as does the mantle; from James Pfarr - "olive mixed in rump and sadddle with much bold tail edging". The females are all very similar, but follow the trend as the males: darker in the south to lighter in the north.

The melanistic forms of Phasianus colchicus are generally darker, the wing-coverts dark olive, not bluish-grey as in versicolor. Hybrids between versicolor and colchicus occur in captivity and in the wild where both species have been introduced into adjoining ranges. The hybrids vary in plumage, but are quite different from the mutations.

Status in Wild: Green Pheasants are still common in Japan and is the most popular game bird in that country. Laws forbit the release of Phasianus colchicus in most areas of Japan. The Green Pheasant rarely comes into contact with Japan's other endemic pheasant, the Copper Pheasant, but there have been a few reports of hybrids in the wild.

The introduced populations on Hawaii are stable, but also shares habitat and range with Phasianus colchicus. Populations in western Europe have perhaps bred with Phasianus colchicus for a number of years and no pure versicolor exist there any longer. This species has been crossed with Phasianus colchicus on some game farms in North America and released, but it is also highly unlikely that there are any pure versicolor in the wild here as well.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: There are breeders that breed pure Green Pheasants, but not in very large numbers. I would like to here from more of you out there with this species so I can expand with images, captive status. In Japan, many thousands are reared each year for release.

Breeding Season: April to early June.

Breeding Age: First year; adult plumage is also attained the first year.

Clutch Size: 6 to 12 olive eggs.

Incubation Period: 23 to 25 days.

Misc. Aviculture Notes: Green Pheasants are easy to keep in captivity. Aviaries should be large as the birds can be fairly flighty and nervous. Grass and reed tufts should be placed throughout for the hen to nest under. Males are not aggressive and several hens can be bred to one male. Winter care the same as most pheasants, as they are very hardy and can withstand cold temperatures well..


Images

Click on thumbnails for larger views.

Northern Green Pheasant, Phasianus versicolor robustipes

1 2

Photo Credits
1-2, James Pfarr.

Southern Green Pheasant, Phasianus versicolor versicolor

1 2

Photo Credits
1-2, James Pfarr.



Bibliography and Further Reading



Links

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