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Palawan Peacock Pheasant

(Polyplectron napoleonis)

Other Names: Napoleon's Peacock-Pheasant; The specific name napoleonis now has priority over emphanum. Source - Dickinson, E. C. (2001): The correct scientific name of the Palawan Peacock-Pheasant is Polyplectron napoleonis (Lesson, 1831). Bull. B. O. C. 121(4): 266-272.

Range: The island of Palawan in the Philippines.

Subspecies: There are no subspecies recognized, but males with white supercillia (often referred to as double-barred in captivity) are sometimes given subspecies status as nehrkornae. This is disputed and the variation is probably insignificant.

Habitat: Forested areas

Description: Unmistakable from the other species in the genus. The crest is long and pointed which is dark metallic green as is the crown and neck; the facial skin around the eye is bright red with a white patch under the eye. Some males will have another white patch or bar above the eye that is parallel with the patch below (sometimes extending down the neck), these birds are often referred to as "Double-barred" (see subspecies above). The breast, mantle, flanks and wings are dark metallic greenish-blue and black; there are no ocelli on the rump, rather solid vermiculations of white, black and chestnut. The tail is similar in color with large blue-green ocelli sperated by a black band; the tip of the tail is buff.

Description, Female: Very drab in comparison to the male. Her crest is shorter and often held flat; her face is pale gray that extends from above the eyes to the throat. The rest of the plumage is dark brown, with no ocelli.

Status in Wild: CITES I; Vulnerable due to small and fragmented range. Habitat loss, hunting and trade are main sources of decline. Conservation status

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Uncommon, but highly sought after.

Breeding Season: Begins in March in warmer climates and can last into August.

Breeding Age: Males can be sexually mature the first year, although it may take up to three years to fully develop the adult plumage; hens will not often lay until they are two.

Clutch Size: 2 to 5 eggs; buff white in color.

Incubation Period: 18-19 days.

Misc. Aviculture Notes: Often considered by many as the most beautiful species of the genus Polyplectron. They are rather delicate and require heated quarters during the winter months. Palawans should be kept in aviaries that are rich with cover and live plants. Hens have been known to incubate their own eggs in such an environment.

Many keepers have found that Palawan chicks are difficult to teach to eat if not naturally raised. In the wild (and in parent-raised chicks in captivity), the hen offers food to the chicks directly from her beak. In a brooder situation, a shallow dish with mealworms and other small insects will encourage the chicks to eat. The live food can be placed on top of pheasant starter in the dish, this way the chicks will associate the "wigglers" with the mash. Live food is a favorite food throughout the growing process and adult birds also enjoy the treat. Mealworms can be dusted with vitamin supplements such as Vionate. Palawans should also be offered chopped greens and other vegetables often at all stages of life. Diet prepared for this species by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

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Photo Credits
(l to r): 1, Dan Cowell; 2-4, Monte Nord; 5-7 Hugo Barbosa.

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.
  • 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.
  • Stattersfield, A.J., Crosby, M.J., Long, A.J., Wege, D.C. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World, Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.


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