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cline01 (1K)

Reeves Pheasant

(Syrmaticus reevesii)


Syrmaticus reevsii
Photo by Bruce Craig

Other Names: Long-tailed Pheasant

Range: Central China, range has been greatly reduced. Unsuccessful attempts to introduce into North America, Hawaii, England and France. Birds are still released in these areas for sport, but breeding information is unknown.

Subspecies: None.

Habitat: Forested mountains.

Description: A very familiar and well known pheasant in captivity. The males are known to grow very long tails, up to 6 feet in some cases! The crown, chin and back of head is white with a black band covering the face, eyes and extending to the back of the head. Another black band around the neck seperates the head from the black-tipped, yellow-buff plumage that is on the mantle and the back and extends to the base of the tail. The upper breast is darker chestnut to black; lower breast and side feathers are white, tipped with black. The tail is very long, white with black bars.

There is a great deal of plumage variations in captive birds. Some are seen with black feathers on the crown and the black band on the face may extend below the mandible. Other birds are seen with a darker chestnut color on the body. Some breeders feel that inbreeding over the years has contributed to this.

Description, Female: The hen is drab as in most pheasants and is smaller than the male. Her face and throat are buff, with a brown crown and band behind her eye. The overall markings are mottled brown, buff and white, which hides her very well when nesting. The tail is long and barred with buff and brown.

Status in Wild: The wild population is declining, perhaps fewer than 2,000 individuals still exist in what is left of the original range. Destruction of habitat and overhunting primary threats.

Interesting Facts: Named after John Reeves, (1774-1856), a British naturalist and businessman who sent the first specimens back to England in 1831.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Very common; most commonly seen species of the genus Syrmaticus in captivity. Due to the rapid decline of the wild population, captive breeding and genetic diversity becoming very important.

Breeding Season: Begins in late April or early May. We have had hens lay into early July.

Breeding Age: First year.

Clutch Size: 7 to 14 olive colored eggs.

Incubation Period: 24-25 days.

Misc. Aviculture Notes: Very common and easy to raise, the Reeve's need to be housed in a large aviary. They are very hardy and able to withstand both cold and heat. Cocks can become aggressive towards their keepers and other males. I once had a Reeves male that spent the entire breeding season pacing his pen, he wore most of his breast feathers off trying to get to a male Swinhoe in the next pen. Needless to say, I had no fertile eggs out of that male and when I placed a sight barrier in between the two, the Reeve's then moved to a high roost to watch the Swinhoe! I have never owned a Reeve's that has attacked me, but I have seen others who have some very aggressive birds! Just be careful and keep an eye on the male when in the aviary. Perhaps take a net in with you to keep him at bay.

The chicks are strong and aggressive and should be brooded seperate form other species as they may pick on other chicks. Several hens can be bred to one cock.

In order to keep the cock's tail in good conditon, provide him with a dry area, free of mud that could stick to the tail and damage it. Like I have already mentioned, the aviary needs to be large and be sure to keep sight barriers (tin or plastic) between the aviaries to discourage fighting.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Photo Credits
(l to r): 1-3, Myles Lamont; 4, Jan Harteman; 5-8, Roman Kmicikewycz; 9, Michael Baker.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Brown, D. 1998. A Guide to Pheasants & Waterfowl, Their Management, Care & Breeding. ABK Publications, South Tweed Heads, Australia.
  • 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.
  • Hayes, LB. 1995. Upland Game Birds: Their Breeding and Care. Leland Hayes, Valley Center, CA.
  • 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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