White Eared-Pheasant

(Crossoptilon crossoptilon)




Other Names: See the specific subspecies.

Range: China, from southeastern Tibet and western Szechuan, southern Qinghai, northwestern Yunnan.

Subspecies: There are four subspecies generally recognized, their geographical/common names: Szechuan C. c. crossoptilon, Dolan's C. c. dolani, Tibetan or Drouyni C. c. drouyni, Yunnan C. c. lichiangense. The Harman's Eared-Pheasant C. harmani, sometimes classed as a subspecies

Habitat: Rocky hillsides in coniferous forests, also in mixed forests in summer to the snow line.

Description: A distinctive large, overall white pheasant, with a velvety black crown, red facial skin and dark tail. Unlike other members of the genus, the ear-tufts are quite small and they carry a smaller, less ornate tail. Sexes are generally similar, but the hens are usually smaller.

Subspecies Variation: C. c. crossoptilon - Pure white chin, rest of body off-white, wing coverts tinged with gray; primaries dark gray to brown. C. c. lichiangense - Much like crossoptilon, but wings are lighter gray. C. c. drouyni - Whitest of the races, there is some light gray on the mantle; wings are white. C. c. dolani - Ashy gray overall with a white belly; wings are pale gray.

Status in Wild: Vulnerable, habitat loss and hunting has taken toll in many areas of range. However, the range is quite large and it is possible there are stable and locally common populations in some regions.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: The Drouyni and Szechuan races seem to be the most commonly seen races and are well established. I once read an article that the Dolan's have made it to American aviaries, but I've not read any more on their establishment. The Yunnan may have been imported, but it is likely that they were confused with Szechuan and interbred.

Breeding Season: Late April to June.

Breeding Age: Second year

Clutch Size: 4-7

Incubation Period: 24-25 days

Misc. Aviculture Notes: Should be kept in pairs. Hardy birds that can withstand cold temperatures very well, but they will need protection from the heat and sun of the summer. A large aviary is required.

The breeding season usually starts in May and lasts through June. The clutch size is about 4 to 7 buff eggs which are incubated for 24 days. Some White Eared males have the tendency to be somewhat aggressive towards their mates, so it is recommended that the aviary be large, with lots of cover and locations for the females to hide. Trimming one wing of the male may also reduce his aggressive advances.


Images

Click on thumbnails for larger views.

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Photo Credits
(l to r): 1, Roman Kmicikewycz; 2, Francy Hermans; 3-4, Scott Vowers; 5-7, Dan Cowell.


Bibliography and Further Reading



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