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Pheasant / Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758

Home / - Next View Volume 2 / Pheasant / Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758

Type Name:Pheasant
Latin name:Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758
English name:Pheasant
Squad:Chicken (Galliformes)
Family:Pheasant (Phasianidae)
Gender:Pheasant (Phasianus Linnaeus, 1758)
Status:Nesting sedentary appearance.

Description and Features

Caucasian pheasant according to the classification included in the chicken squad. It is larger than its relatives in size. The body length is 90 cm, weight 1.7 - 2.0 kg. Females are not as large as males.

Long tails of a pointed shape. The wings are rounded. Males are armed with spurs; they always have bright plumage. The areas around the eyes, the cheeks are leathery. When the time comes for currenting, these places turn red.

The color of the males includes saturated colors, the drawing as if created by a painter. Pheasant in the photo like a magical firebird. The main tone of the plumage is yellowish red. The head is blue-green. Feathers with a green fringing decorate a nape of a nape.

Below is a blue-violet pattern. Ahead, it resembles a scaly pattern. Neck, chest with a metallic tint. The belly is often brown. Legs, gray-yellowish beak. The color of males is variable from the habitat. Subspecies vary in shade characteristics.

The outfit of females is much more modest - nature protected them from the attention of predators, so that there were more chances to bear offspring. A colorful pattern on a dull brown background perfectly masks birds against a background of vegetation. Beak, legs of females are gray. Beautiful birds are raised in special pheasant gardens and subsidiary farms. About 50 countries acquired feathered predators for adaptation on their territories.

The main differences in geographical forms are manifested in size, color. All breeds of elegant birds are conventionally divided into 2 categories:

  • common (Caucasian) pheasants - includes 32 subspecies that are suitable for home breeding,
  • green (Japanese) - contains 5 subspecies of highly decorative birds, popular in zoos.

Breeds for fattening are quite decorative.

Common pheasant. In appearance, more than others, the subspecies looks like a chicken. The main difference between the species is a long tail. The mass of an individual is 1.7 kg. The color is rich in diversity, includes green, brown, yellow, copper, purple feathers. Lives near water in coastal thickets. You can meet the common pheasant next to the rice, corn fields, where the bird finds an abundance of feed.

Hunting Pheasant. The variety is obtained as a result of hybridization of several subspecies. The plumage color is diverse. Weight an average of 1.5 kg, depending on the conditions of detention. In the natural environment, this pheasant does not live. One of the breeding goals is sport hunting.

Romanian pheasant. It features a blue-green plumage throughout the body. There is no border on the throat. On the head is a tuft of small feathers. Hybrid grown in industrial conditions. Has gained popularity in home breeding.

Transcaucasian pheasant. Reddish-golden plumage with a complex pattern of a pattern consisting of spots and scaly stripes. Green head, brown belly. Fattened individuals reach a weight of 3 kg. The right conditions of feeding and feeding affect the productivity of breeding. The birds themselves take care of the young.

Species of common pheasant are common in the wild. Decorative representatives originally lived in Asian countries, many were exported for breeding, exhibition purposes.

King pheasant. Mountain dwellers in northeast China. Found in gorges, valleys of deciduous and coniferous forests. Feathers from a distance look like fish scales, as they are bordered by a black-brown rim. On a black head a lush snow-white hat, a black bezel adorns the neck. The abdomen and chest are brown. In females, the outfit is more modest - a brown-brown outfit with a splash of black.

Diamond Pheasants (Amherst). Exotic bird is considered one of the most beautiful. Well amenable to breeding, copes with frosts, care is not difficult. An exquisite combination of bright colors, a white hood make the breed recognizable. The peculiarity of diamond pheasants is manifested in the upbringing of the chicks by both parents.

Golden pheasant. Under natural conditions, the bird lives only in China. The size of the pheasant is the smallest among other related species. They run fast, they don’t know how to fly. Male pheasant decorated with a yellow-red tuft. On the head, neck, orange plumage. Females of gray-brown mottled color with specks, stripes. The eyes and beak have orange spots.

Silver Pheasant. Semi-wild variety. Bred for decorative purposes. Bird of a special color - black and white plumage with a red ornament on his head. The males have a crest on the head. Female pheasant brownish, with an olive tint in plumage. Reproduction lends itself poorly. In the economy, the subspecies is appreciated for the destruction of pests, strong immunity. May be aggressive towards other birds.

Eared Pheasant. Sexual dimorphism of the eared representatives is not expressed. The special structure of the elongated body, solid weight, solid color, plumage extending beyond the head, brush-like tail, red leathery area around the eyes are inherent in the inhabitants of northeast India, China, Tibet. There are white, blue, brown varieties of eared pheasants. Snow-white is the most popular.

Green (Japanese) pheasant. Endemic to the islands of Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku. The national bird of Japan, reflected on banknotes, cultural monuments. The size of the green pheasant is much smaller than usual, the mass is only 1.2 kg. Emerald feathers cover the chest, back of the bird, purple - the neck. Pheasants live on hilly terrain in tall grasses. Often feed on tea plantations, gardens, agricultural fields.

Lifestyle & Habitat

Pheasant spread widely as a result of active introduction of the bird, successful adaptation. Resettlement covers territories from the Iberian Peninsula to Japan. In the Caucasus, Turkey, China, Vietnam, the Primorsky Territory, Europe, North America, the acclimatization of birds, domestication have become commonplace.

The bird settles in areas rapidly overgrown with vegetation - forests, undergrowths, grass meadows, roadsides of sown fields. Thorny bushes are especially attractive - among them birds feel protected. Tugai thickets, reed shores are favorite habitats of bright birds.

In case of danger, they do not fly up to the tops of trees, like other birds, rather run into impassable thickets. A large beast does not climb into thorny bushes. A prerequisite for the settlement is the proximity of the reservoir, so birds can often be found near lakes, marshy areas, in river valleys. Resistant to frost, pheasants easily tolerate winters if the snow cover does not exceed 18-20 cm. In mountainous areas, bird settlement is observed at an altitude of 2500 m above sea level.

The owner of bright plumage has to constantly hide in the thickets of thickets, so as not to be the prey of predators. Some species are hiding in the trees, resting among the foliage. Climb higher when they do not find food on the ground in cold weather. On the branches, they feed on preserved fruits.

Pheasants behave cautiously when they descend to the ground. They do this swiftly, in a throw, quickly change the angle of movement, hide in the thickets. Compared to other chicken representatives, pheasants have a record running speed. To accelerate, the bird instinctively stretches its head, raises its tail.

The pheasant has a lot of natural enemies. Among mammals, birds are hunted by foxes, lynxes, cougars, wild dogs. Feathered predators, such as eagle owls, hawks, are also natural enemies of pheasants. In the first year of life, up to 80% of individuals become food for other forest inhabitants.

Particular danger comes from man. The pheasant has long been an object of commercial and sport hunting. Specially trained dogs help who drive the game on the branches of trees, and when taking off, hunters shoot birds. The population is significantly affected by climate. A natural decline in birds is inevitable in very snowy and frosty winters.

Pheasant populations are actively recovering. A significant role is played by home breeding of birds, keeping in nurseries, in protected areas. In general, the population size does not cause concern.

Pheasants are flocks of birds that are kept in large same-sex groups outside the breeding season. Active time for food search is in the morning and in the evening. Birds are quiet, a voice can be heard only in flight. It is a sharp, jerky sound heard from afar. Special signals of birds emit during mating.

Ordinary pheasant, migratory bird or not, characterized by region of residence. A sedentary lifestyle is inherent in most inhabitants of the regions with an abundance of feed. Migratory time for small distances occurs after the removal of the chicks. Then, in search of fodder, birds can be found in places unusual for them.

Pheasant family bird omnivorous. Plant food predominates in the diet, but the animal component is also included: worms, spiders, rodents, snails, mollusks. Newborn pheasant chicks up to a month old receive only animal food from their parents.

More than a hundred plants are attractive to pheasant. Seeds, berries, young shoots, fruits become food. Birds feed by tearing the ground with their claws. Jump, take off low to collect fruits in tall bushes and trees. In households, pheasants are unpretentious in nutrition.

The best food is considered food waste (without signs of spoilage), greens (plantain, dandelion). Birds treat themselves with grain mixtures, vegetables, fruits, berries. Beautiful plumage must be supported by mineral additives (lime, chalk, crushed shells). It is possible to intensify the work of the digestive organs by adding clean river sand, small pebbles.

Reproduction and longevity

The breeding season of pheasants begins in the spring. The males conquer the sites for mating, summon females. Protection of their territory is belligerent, in the battles of rivals. Females are combined into small groups, from which the male selects a pair.

The mating dance is manifested in the frequent flapping of wings, loosening of the soil, tossing of grains, screaming, vibration of the voice. The non-feathered areas on the male’s head turn red. He walks around the chosen one, hisses, attracting attention.

Females are engaged in the construction of the nest. Usually it is located on the ground among thorny bushes in dense grass. Egg laying takes place alternately, once a day, only 8-12 pieces. Hatching lasts 22-25 days. The female rarely leaves the nest to replenish her strength; her weight during this period is reduced by half. The male does not help in taking care of the offspring. If the predator destroys the clutch, then the female lays eggs again, closer to the fall.

Hatching babies after a couple of hours follow the mother. After 2 weeks, they are ready to take off, but need care for up to 2.5-3 months. At the age of 7-8 months they are ready to become parents.

The life of pheasants in nature is short, but under favorable circumstances it lasts 6-7 years. In captivity, where there are no threats from predators, hunters, birds live for about 15 years. Thanks to active reproduction, pheasants have survived from antiquity to the present day. Beautiful birds have been recognized and appreciated all over the world.

General characteristics and field characteristics

Pheasant is a fairly large land bird, leading mainly a land-based lifestyle. The size and weight of his body are approximately the same as that of domestic chicken, but thanks to the long tail and legs, the male looks somewhat larger. The color of the male is very bright, consists of a combination of reddish-red, black, white, golden, blue and green, while the female is painted in modest grayish tones with a lot of brown mottles. In nature, a pheasant cannot be confused with any other bird, primarily due to its long tail, which is especially striking in a flying bird.

The pheasant runs very quickly and easily breaks through the thickest thickets, but at close danger it takes off with a characteristic "explosive" flight almost vertically and immediately develops great speed, although usually it travels a short distance. The flight itself is a typical type for chicken birds, in which a series of quick flaps alternate with gliding on the wings apart and bent down. Contrary to the prevailing opinion, the pheasant uses flight relatively often, especially where the places of feeding, spending the night, and watering are at some distance from each other. Those populations that make significant seasonal migrations do this both by flight and on foot, but so far no one has seen a non-stop flight of a pheasant further than 1 km.

Being a land bird, the pheasant nonetheless eagerly feeds on trees in autumn and winter, and birds from Caucasian populations spend the night on them in the summer. The male’s voice is a crude two-syllable cry, and each of the syllables, in turn, is also two-syllable, but it is pronounced almost together, especially the first. Most often it is heard in the spring, but can also be published by a frightened bird during take-off. Alarmed by something, the male emits a monosyllabic urge “koch”, repeated at short intervals all the time while the bird is worried. The female is very silent and, only being scared, makes a squeak when taking off.

Coloring. Adult male (nominative subspecies). The general color is reddish-golden, the wings are light brown, the head is green with a metallic tint, the front of the neck and upper chest are purple, with the same tint. On the elongated golden brown feathers of the nape there are narrow apical green rims. The dummy is violet-blue with a greenish metallic sheen. On the reddish-gold background of the upper body (with a purple tint on the lower back and upper wing coverts), there is a complex pattern of black spots and a scaly-like pattern in the front of the back, as well as white with black bordering lancet spots in the scapular region. All feathers of the upper part of the body carry wide reddish rims, which from different angles of view look purple or golden.

These rims are very wide on the feathers of the lower back and the mantle and form here a homogeneous golden-red surface with the same purple tint. The lower body is lighter, golden, with a dense scaly pattern of black semicircles on the chest and of transverse black stripes and spots on the front of the abdomen and sides. The belly is black-brown. The feathers of the feathers are light brown, with a fuzzy transverse pattern of whitish stripes. The humeral and hiding feathers of the wing are dark brown, with a white striated pattern and wide yellowish-gray edges, having a narrow brown or violet (depending on the angle of view) border. The tail feathers are yellowish-brown with narrow ocher-red or purple borders on 3 central pairs and with a transverse pattern of narrow black stripes that do not reach the edges in the lower part of the central pair. At the extreme pairs, these bands are wider, and a brown streaky pattern is added to them. The beak and legs are yellowish, on the sides of the head are areas of bare skin, devoid of feathers, capturing the area down from the eye to the ear holes and the beak - “cheeks” that turn bright red during the current period.

Adult female. The color is mottled, "pockmarked." On the upper part of the body, according to the sandy background, in the correct order are oval blackish-brown spots - the centers of the feathers.On the head and neck, the spots take the form of transverse stripes and are located closely to each other, which makes these parts look darker. The feathers of the head and neck have a faint purple sheen. The lower body is light sand in color with a faint streaky pattern on the abdomen and with semicircular brown spots in the upper chest and lower neck. On the sides of the body is the same pattern of oblong oval spots of brown color on a gray-yellow background. The belly is one-color, with a barely noticeable yellowish streaky pattern. The feathers of the feathers are colored, as in males, but with a sharper transverse pattern of white stripes. The wing coverts are colored the same as on the back. Steering feathers with a clear transverse pattern of thin whitish and wider black-brown stripes bordering them, which on the central pair do not reach the edges - there is a wide gray border with a thin brown streak. Beak and legs are gray, bare spots on the sides of the head are small, go from the eyes to the ear holes.

Male and female in juvenile attire. Painted the same way. The overall tone of the outfit, like that of an adult female, is sandy gray with black-brown and brown streaks. The top of the head and neck are in small brownish-brown streaks, on the front of the back there are large transverse and longitudinal stripes of dark brown color with a longitudinal white hatching created by narrow barreled stripes. In the scapular region, against the dark brown background of the central part of the feathers, their broad light borders create a lanceolate pattern. Unclear brownish transverse stripes on loins and nails. The lower part of the body is sand-colored with a transverse pattern of brown stripes on the sides and a small amount of speckles in the upper chest. The throat is whitish. Fly and tail feathers with a transverse pattern of light stripes on a brownish background, and only internal minor fly and shoulder feathers carry a complex lanceolate pattern in the upper part of the feather.

Second juvenile outfit. Formed in batches of feathers, growing last. It is called "transitional" by some authors, but in reality differs from the adult's outfit no less than the first juvenile one. It is formed by feathers on the chest, belly, on the neck and back: they have bright red borders and pale ocher spots along the black barrel, with a black stripe between the edges and the center of the feather. These feathers create the predominant red color of the chest and belly. Immediately with the appearance of this outfit, the intensive growth of adult plumage begins (Tugarinov, Kozlova, 1945).

Downy chicks below are light gray, with a slight yellowish tint and a longitudinal brown pattern of wide stripes along the upper body: the central brown strip runs from the crown of the head, sharpening from front to back, in the middle of the back and lower back to the tail region. 2 light stripes stretch along its sides, bordered from the outside by a pair of dark brown stripes starting in the supraorbital region. Dark brown spots in the ear area on the sides of the head.

Structure and dimensions

The main structural features of the pheasant are short, strongly rounded wings, strong legs of considerable length and a long stepped tail, where the central pair of tail feathers is the longest, and all of them have pointed thin tops. On the sides of the head above the ear feathers in males, there are 2 bunches of elongated feathers forming the so-called “ears”.

The beak is strong, strong, slightly bent down. Sizes. Males (n = 29, col. ZIN AN SSSR): wing 253.5 (228–263), tail 543 (457–628), length of beak 21.0 (18.1–22.4), metatarsus 71.5 (61.7–75.2), middle finger 49.5 ( 45.7-52.4). Females (n = 10, col. ZIN AN SSSR): wing 226.1 (214–236), tail 335.5 (283–433), beak length 17.9 (16.6–19.4), metatarsus 63.1 (59.7–68.1), middle finger 45.5 ( 40.5-50.0). The mass of males and females varies depending on age, subspecies, and season — males from 900 to 2,000, and females from 710 to 1,350.

The sequence of change of attire: downy, juvenile, first adult, second adult, etc. The feathers first appear at the downy chick, then large covering wings, contour feathers on the back, tail feathers, and then the plumage develops throughout the body, and the last forehead and nape are leaning. The change of juvenile fly feathers begins with the first priority on the 40th day of life. At the age of 52 days, males have the first contour feathers of an adult outfit, first on the sides of the chest, and then on the back and further throughout the body. At the age of 60 days, the skin around the eyes begins to redden, and at the age of 68 days, the change of steering feathers begins.

The last is the contour plumage of the head, with the last to grow bundles of feathers that form the "ears" of an adult male. The final development of the first adult outfit is completed by the end of the 6th month of life. The peculiar development of adult tail feathers. Toward the end of the 3rd month of life, the outer helmsmen begin to bend outward in the plane of the fan, because of which the tail takes on a lyre-shaped form for some time, which lasts about 2 weeks. After this, the bend of the extreme rudders disappears, the central pair reaches the length of the extreme ones and overtakes them in growth, but during their development there is also a moment when they make two consecutive bends in the apex plane in their apical part - first outward and then inward (Tugarinov, Kozlova, 1945). The development of the plumage of a female with such a degree of detail has not been traced.

Plumage changes in adult birds take place annually during the summer. It begins, at least in males, with the replacement of the first primary fly feather. At the stage of the 4th primary flyworm shift, active molting of the contour plumage throughout the bird’s body begins, which occurs in early June. At the end of June, the change of secondary feathers begins, first from the innermost outward, then from the 2nd inward in such a way that the 7th and 8th secondary fly feathers located in the center are replaced by the latter, towards which the feathers change from two parties. Steering feathers change from external to central pairs. Shedding of the feathers of the wing and tail often passes asymmetrically. In females, molting is delayed by incubation, but then actively proceeds approximately according to the same pattern as in the male. Shedding ends in early September.

Subspecies taxonomy

Due to significant changes in the natural environment during the Pleistocene-Holocene time, the once-continuous range of the pheasant has now turned into a number of isolated areas in its western part, in particular on the territory of the USSR. In most cases, these isolates inhabit special subspecies that are clearly distinguishable from each other, in particular 13 in the USSR. Now, their existence, among other things, is threatened by the spread of the hybrid, the so-called hunting pheasant, which settled in the south of Ukraine, in Moldova and in the lower Don, brought into a number of places of Wed. Asia and really threatens the existence of a number of local subspecies through absorption crossing.

1. Caucasian pheasant - Phasianus colchicus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758. A description of the color is given in the description of the species. A small area covers the river basin. Rioni and the upper part of the Kura basin. It used to extend along the Black Sea coast to the north to the river valley. Kodori. It inhabited the whole of Armenia, where it is now preserved only in the Kafan district along the Araks valley and its tributaries (Leister, Sosnin, 1942). It also enters the most northeastern corner of Turkey along the Chorokha Valley.

2. North Caucasian pheasant - Phasianus colchicus septentrionalis Lorenz, 1883. The male differs from the previous species in a lighter golden-orange color, black marks on the back, chest and sides have a predominant green hue. The coloration of the females is also somewhat paler. It inhabits the northern Ciscaucasia from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. It goes along the Caspian coast to the south almost to the Absheron Peninsula, and to the north to the deltas of the Volga and the Urals (in the latter it has already been exterminated). In the Volga delta, it either disappeared or reappeared, being even numerous. It used to be on the Black Sea coast in the Kuban delta, where it is now exterminated, and remains in places in the basin of this river, as well as the Terek.

3. Georgian pheasant - Phasianus colchicus lorensi Buturlin, 1904. For males, a chocolate-matte or reddish-brown center of the abdomen, bordered in front by shiny adjacent feathers of the chest and sides, is characteristic. Inhabits the lower part of the Kura basin and the lower reaches of the Araks with tributaries.

4. Talysh pheasant - Phasianus colchicus talischensis Lorenz, 1888. The male differs from the nominative subspecies in narrower dark borders of goiter feathers, which are narrowed in their upper part and have a deep notch at the end of the shaft. Goiter and sides of the body without a copper-red or purple hue. The coloration of the females is somewhat darker than that of the nominative subspecies. It inhabits the Caspian lowland south of the Kura delta - Talysh, Lankaran, Gilyan and Mazenderan in Iran, where I have found in sufficient numbers on the Mian-Kale Peninsula. Goes east to the Gorgan Valley, inclusive.

5. Persian pheasant - Phasianus colchicus persicus Sewertzow, 1875. The male differs from the previous subspecies in the whitish-gray color of the upper covering feathers of the wing, which has a clearly pronounced hue. On the back, chest and sides, a golden tint prevails. The metallic greenish sheen on the posterior part of the epigastric is almost not pronounced. Inhabits the valleys of western Kopetdag. To the east comes to Ashgabat, but now there is exterminated everywhere. The northern border runs along the watershed between the Atreka Basin and rivers flowing north. The western border passes in Turkmenistan along the lower reaches of the Sumbar, and is absent in the lower reaches of the Atrek. In Iran, it inhabits the Atrek Valley and in the west, in the Gorgan Valley, contacts with the previous subspecies, but the details of the distribution of both forms are not studied here.

6. Murgab pheasant - Phasianus colchicus principalis Sclater, 1885. The male differs from the Persian subspecies in almost pure white upper wing coverts. The front of the back is dominated by a golden color, with a well-developed scaly pattern created by dark feather borders with a width of up to 1.5 mm. Shoulder feathers without a mottled pattern characteristic of Caucasian subspecies. There is no white collar, but on some neck feathers in this place there are white spots hidden by the overlying plumage. The feathers of the middle of the chest have wide, up to 3 mm, purplish-red rims and are relatively slightly different in color from the rest of the feather. On the sides of the chest are feathers with metallic-violet or black rims with a greenish tint. Distributed in the valleys of eastern Kopetdag, in the Tetgen and Murghab basins. Now survived only in a few places where floodplain tugai thickets are still preserved. V. past, apparently, was in contact with a Persian pheasant in the region of Ashgabat. There are in the lower reaches of Kushka at Cala i Mora. It was once abundant in the upper Murgab on the Afghan side, but has long been completely exterminated there (Paludan, 1959).

7. Amu Darya pheasant - Phasianus colchicus zarudny Buturlin, 1904. The color of males is characterized by strong individual variability. The back is colored brighter and lighter than that of the Murgab pheasant, but in some individuals it is the same or even darker. Black borders on the feathers of the back are developed, then they are not there. There is a white collar in the form of 2 sickle-shaped stripes on the sides of the base of the neck, but in some cases it is reduced, as in the Murghab. The crimson color on the neck is slightly developed or it does not exist at all. On the reddish-golden feathers of the chest, the crimson rims are narrower than in the previous subspecies, usually about 2 mm, but there are also 1.5 and 4.0 mm. Distributed in the Amu Darya valley in its middle course from the river. Kerki down to the city of Dargan-Ata.

8. Khiva pheasant - Phasianus colchicus chrysomelas Sewertzow, 1875. The male is similar in color to the Tajik pheasant, but it differs well by the predominance of copper-red color on the chest and the darker bronze-red upper side of the body, where the green color is almost completely absent. Distributed downstream of the Amu Darya from Dargan-Ata to the delta itself. Now he began to move along with the waters of the Amu Darya west into the Sarykamysh depression.

9. Tajik pheasant - Phasianus colchicus bianchii Buturlin, 1904. Males are distinguished by the development of a black color on their chests (with a greenish metallic tint), created by wide rims of feathers, almost completely covering the dark golden middle part of the feathers. Red color is distributed on the sides of the body. This subspecies inhabits the upper part of the Amu Darya basin up from Termez. Upward along the Panj it was spread to Chubek and slightly higher, along the Karasau valley it reached Sherabad, along Surkhan up to the Gissar valley (Saryssia village), along Kafirnigan to Ordzhonikidzebad, along Vakhsh to Kurgan-Tyube and Kuibyshevsk, and Yakhsu - to Kulyab (Ivanov, 1969). Now it has survived only in the valleys of the Amu Darya and Panj rivers and in the lower reaches of Vakhsh up to Dzhilikul, as well as at the village of Syryssiy on Surkhan (data from the 1960s), and everywhere its number has become very low. In Afghanistan, its distribution is limited only by the valleys of the Upper Amu Darya, Lower Panj, and the lower Kunduz and Kokchi. There are indications that he met at Balkh (Paludan, 1959).

10. Zerafshan pheasant - Phasianus colchicus zerafschatiicus Tarnov-ski, 1892. The color of the back of males is very variable. The black borders on the feathers of the back are slightly developed or absent. The white collar is well defined but not wide (maximum width 5 mm). The throat is usually purple-red, a purple hue prevails on the chest, and the loin is brown-red. In general, it is similar in color to the Amu Darya subspecies. It is distributed along the valleys of the basins of Kashkadarya and Zeravshan, according to the latter - up to its exit from the mountains (I found in 1975 at the nesting site near the village of Maykot, 27 km above Penjikent). It goes down Zarafshan to its very end (Khoja-Dyavat village, Lake Sun-guri and Karanga (Dal, 1936). In the Kashkadarya basin it was distributed from the city of Karshi to the spurs of the Gissar and Zeravshan ranges. Now (data from the 1960s ) it was preserved on a section of the valley from Karshi to the village of Chirakchi and in the upper reaches of the Tanhas River (1,500 m above sea level), as well as along the Chiyaldarya River in the areas of Shakhrisyabz and Kitab (Meklenburtsev, 1958, Ivanov , 1969).

11. Syrdarya pheasant - Phasianus colchicus turkestanicus Lorenz, 1896. Adult males are similar in color to the Semirechye subspecies, but have a less developed white collar, usually interrupted in front. It inhabits the floodplain thickets of the Syr Darya from the delta itself (including the number of islands of the Aral Sea closest to it) to the Ferghana Valley, where it used to live everywhere, but is now exterminated, apparently still preserved in the mountains bordering this valley from the east - to Jalalabad Oblast . in the Karadarya basin. Penetrated earlier in the eastern foothills of the Alai Range, rising along the valley of the river. Kurshab to Gulchi.

12. The Semirechensky pheasant - Phasianus colchicus mongolicus Brandt, 1844. The adult male differs from the males of the remaining subspecies by the predominance of copper-red color in the front of the back. A wide pale collar (about 10 mm) is often solid, but can be torn in front. On the back, shoulders, chest and front of the abdomen, a green metallic tint is common. Feathers of chest without apical borders. They sporadically populate the southeastern parts of Kazakhstan east of the Kyrgyz Range, to the northeast it used to reach Zaysan, where it disappeared from the end of the 19th century. Along the mountain valleys, it goes deep into the Tien Shan mountains, there is in the Naryn valley, around Issyk-Kul and along the valleys of the rivers flowing into it, as well as in the mountains of Zailiysky Alatau. The distribution of this form in the adjacent areas of China is poorly studied, in any case it covers the upper part of the river basin. Or the northern foothills of the ridge. Boro-Horo.

13. Manchurian pheasant - Phasianus colchicus pallasi Rotschild, 1903. The main differences in the color of the male are the dull gray, bluish or greenish color of the lower back and upper covering feathers of the tail, without an admixture of copper-red, yellow or red tones. Small and medium wing coverts are also bluish-gray or with a slight olive tint. The white collar is well developed. They inhabit the basins of the Ussuri and middle Amur rivers, in the west - to Bolshoi Khingan. It used to be spread to the west up to the river. Argun, now goes up the Amur valley to the mouth of Zeya. Along the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan, it goes north to Terney Bay.

Spread

The distribution of individual subspecies in the territory of our country is considered above. In general, the species range can be characterized as follows. Initially, it covered both well-moistened and arid regions of the Caucasus, the Near East, Central, Central and Southeast Asia. The main part of the range, which has a continuous stretch, is located in Southeast Asia and occupies most of the territory of eastern China. Outside this area, the range is now represented by relatively small isolated areas (Fig. 21, 22).

Figure 21. Pheasant Range
The crosses indicate the places where the pheasant disappeared in the XX century.

Figure 22. Pheasant distribution in the USSR
1 - Phasianus colchicus colchicus, 2 - Ph. from. septentrionalis, 3 - Ph. from. lorenzi, 4 - Ph. c. talischensis, 5 - Ph. c. persicus, 6 - Ph. c. principalis, 7 - Ph. c. zarudny, 8 - Ph. c. chrysomelos, 9 - Ph. c. bianchii, 10 - Ph. c. zerafschanicus, 11 - Ph. c. turkestanicus, 12 - Ph. c. mongolicus, 13 - Ph. c. pallasi.

In antiquity, a pheasant was brought to Greece and spread from there to the Balkans. Subsequently, with the help of humans, pheasants were widely dispersed throughout Europe, with the exception of Fennoscandia, in North America, Hawaii, and New Zealand. They have also been successfully introduced in some places in South America (Chile), South Australia and Tasmania (Long, 1981). In the USSR, the initial distribution covered the Ciscaucasia and Transcaucasia, the coastal regions of the Caspian Sea, tugai thickets in a number of places in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, as well as the valleys of a number of rivers in the south of the Far East, north to the Amur valley inclusively. Now, as already mentioned above, the artificial breeding of the hybrid, the so-called hunting pheasant, has led to its resettlement in many areas of the south of the European part of the USSR, as well as in some places in Central Asia.

Partial outbreaks of pheasants from places with frosty and snowy winters have already been discussed above. In general, the species retains its serenity in winter. Beginning in autumn, when the fruits and berries of various plants ripen (jigds, sea-buckthorn, saltwort, etc.), pheasants feed mainly in the thickets of these plants, often flying up to the branches of trees and shrubs for berries. For example, they can often be seen feeding in the crowns of large jigdy trees, where, picking berries, they move relatively easily along dense branches, but in impassable thickets of sea buckthorn they prefer to feed from the ground. Pheasants feed jigdy berries on trees until they fall in December, while sea buckthorn gives them food all winter. Pheasant is completely unsuitable for living in snow and avoids it in every way.

A short or shallow snow cover that leaves various food available is not harmful to the pheasant, but deep snow, if it persists for more than a week, has a destructive effect on these birds. They quickly lose weight, weaken and die from malnutrition and cold, and moving in deep snow in the absence of any devices that increase the area of ​​the paw or reduce heat transfer from the surface of the long unpenetrated metatarsus causes them to excess muscle and thermal energy. In such cases, they also become easy prey for a wide variety of predators, including humans. In such situations, when the birds do not have the opportunity to migrate anywhere, they begin to feed even with branch feeds (buds and terminal shoots of turanga), but with prolonged maintenance of harsh conditions this does not save them. Some exceptions are the Manchu and Japanese pheasants.

In the Amur Valley, for example, they can even bury themselves in snow (Sleptsov, Gorchakovskaya, 1952), however, the lack of adaptations to staying in snowy chambers does not give them a share of the advantages that grouse birds get in this case (Potapov, 1974). In northern Japan, where individual winters are long, severe and snowy, pheasants withstand them quite safely. So it was in the winter of 1983/1984, when in the prefectures of Iwate and Fukushima, where I made observations, the temperature fell at night to -10 ° C, and the plains and northern slopes of the mountains were covered with thick snow cover (50-100 cm) from the middle January to mid-March. However, even at this time, significant areas were constantly thawing on the southern slopes, in sunflowers, and in the presence of sun there were always positive temperatures during the day. Here pheasants usually spent the middle of the day basking in the sun in places protected from the wind. They also fed on the southern slopes - along the outskirts of agricultural fields, villages, along roads, even entering large cities along river floodplains. At night, they easily found refuge in the dense thickets of undersized bamboo on the steep, again southern slopes.

The most common place to spend the night was bamboo bent under the weight of snow: the snow on it served as a roof, and a thick litter of dry grass protected the bird from the cold of frozen ground. In southern Tajikistan, the usual places for spending the night, often grouped, are also dense thickets of low reeds, usually not far from watering places.

Habitat

Favorite biotopes of the pheasant are floodplain forests and shrubbery in river and lake valleys dominated by poplar (turanga), jigdah, tamarisk, karagana, willow in combination with dense reed-eryanthus thickets or shrubby vegetation in saline bogs with a predominance of genus saline , dereza and tamarisk. Thick floodplain thickets with thorny shrubs, such as, for example, sea buckthorn, intertwined with lianoid plants and completely impassable for humans, are the main shelters that allow the pheasant to exist safely even with constant pursuit.

In Primorsky Krai, in addition to floodplain forests and shrubs, these birds live in oak copses and near agricultural fields. In Central Asia, pheasants also readily inhabit agricultural fields and orchards, especially where they are enclosed by prickly natural hedges from various berry bushes, grassy bushes and alternate with fields of agricultural crops, and wherever they are chased, they get along well with a person . In Japan, for example, they live in parks of large cities, including Tokyo, and abound in large and small villages, where fields, shrubs and forests at the foot of the mountains alternate with freeways and railways. They do not live in dense tropical forests in the south of the range, preferring more open places with the same reed beds and bamboo along the outskirts of agricultural fields. In the floodplain forests, the pheasant can climb high into the mountains - in the Tien Shan, up to 1,800 m above sea level. m. (Kuzmina, 1962), and even up to 2,800 m in Nyan Shan (Kozlova, 1975).

Number

At present, almost everywhere aboriginal forms of pheasant are on the verge of destruction and have a very low abundance. Only artificially bred hunting pheasant, successfully breeding in special lands, is quite numerous. The main reason for the low abundance of pheasant is the ongoing pursuit by humans and, to a lesser extent, the destruction of natural places of its nesting - tugai thickets. In favorable places, in the absence of these reasons, pheasants reach a very high number and are able to exist with a high population density.

For example, in the 1940s. in the Tigrovaya Balka nature reserve, the number of broods per 1 km2 of tugai reached 20, and the number of birds here in the autumn, 140–150 individuals per 1 km2 (Tugarinov, Kozlova, 1945). I found about the same picture in this reserve in 1958–1959: 15 territorial males per 100 hectares in the spring and up to 120 birds on the same area in the autumn. Now in the same reserve in the most favorable places in the spring, the density is 2-6 males per 100 ha (Bidos, 1985). In most regions of Central Asia, Kazakhstan and the Caucasus, their number per 100 hectares does not exceed 1-3 territorial males in the spring and 5-15 birds of various sexes and ages in the fall. Even in the relatively recent past, these birds were characterized by periodic upsurge in numbers, often leading to expansion or restoration of the range in its individual parts, after which new depressions could also occur.

However, the natural course of population dynamics was completely disrupted by humans even before they had time to study it. Therefore, factors affecting the abundance of pheasant in vivo, including those that cause its sharp ups or downs, are far from being clarified. Now we can only say that the main reasons that negatively affect the number of birds, in addition to anthropogenic factors, are various types of natural disasters, especially fires and floods during the incubation period of eggs, as well as the activities of various predators (primarily mammals).

Daily activity, behavior

The diet is very diverse and includes over 160 species of various plants (Kuzmina, 1977). Birds eat a wide variety of greens, flowers, berries, seeds, buds, as well as many animals, especially various insects, spiders and mollusks (sometimes even small lizards, snakes and mouse rodents). There is no particular selectivity in the feed, and the bulk of the diet is made up of mass species of plants and animals. In search of food, birds dig in the litter, raking it with their feet, but the roots and tubers are almost not represented in the diet. Only in the absence of berries (for example, in the Volga delta) bulbs, nodules of reeds and arrowheads, sorrel roots and raisins are eaten in large quantities (Shatas, 1963). In Primorye, pheasants dig small potatoes in the fields (Gladkov, 1952).

The seasonal change in feed is not pronounced, but one can note a significant predominance in the winter diet of various berries (especially at the beginning of winter) and seeds of various plants, mainly legumes, buckwheat and cereals, including cultivated ones. Among berries and fruits, jida, sea buckthorn, solyanka, blackberry, rose hip, dereza, saxaul, juzgun, hawthorn, ephedra, and barberry are especially important. In places (Primorye) acorns occupy an important place. As an exception, the use of willow buds, turanga and birch catkins (Ili, Ussuriysky Territory) was also observed in severe winters. In different areas, the winter diet is somewhat different, being due to the floristic features of a particular area. In the Syr Darya valley, for example, the main winter feeds are jida berries and chingil seeds, wooly hodgepodge and petrosimony (Tyurekhodzhaev, 1974), in the Ili valley, jida berries and sea buckthorn and caramel seeds (cochia, vault, teresken, solyanka), legumes (chingila , licorice, alfalfa, sweet clover) and cereals (timothy grass, wheatgrass, etc.).

In Issyk-Kul, the main winter food is sea-buckthorn berries, in the tugai of the upper Amu Darya - jida berries, in the Central Tien Shai (upper Tekes river) - sea-buckthorn berries, barberry, wild rose, leaves and seeds of eastern clematis, various seeds (Zhirnov, Vinokurov , 1959). In spring and summer, seeds of Centaurea are especially important on Zeravshan (Meklenburtsev, 1940). Along with a large number of different seeds, tut berries are also eaten, a variety of greens - licorice, legumes and, finally, a large number of various insects. In the first place among them are locusts, destroying which the pheasant certainly brings great benefit. Of other insects, ants, various small beetles, cicada nymphs, stick insects, and spiders occupy an important place. In the Ussuri Territory, birds in the spring often feed on germinating acorns of the Manchurian oak: they found up to 30 acorns in one goiter (Sleptsov, Gorchakovskaya, 1952). In the Caucasus, mollusks are important in June; in August, seeds of blackberry, lycia, and sucker are very important, to which insects, mainly locusts, are added. In the Volga delta, insects account for 70% of the daily diet, with weevils, goldfish, ground beetles, grasshoppers and ants predominating. In the Syr Darya in summer, animal feed makes up about 60%, and in the mountainous regions, sea buckthorn berries become the main food in the summer. In autumn, various berries, all kinds of seeds and fruits predominate in the diet. Vegetable feed in this season is 80% of the diet (Syr Darya) and more. It is noteworthy that in many places insects are found in pheasant food in winter.

In the early days, chicks feed exclusively on insects. They show greater selectivity, eating mainly the larvae of small locusts, aphids, ants, spiders. Insects with hard chitin cover are eaten only from the 7th day of life (Tugarinov, Kozlova, 1945).

Economic value, protection

Nothing threatens the existence of the pheasant as a species thanks to the practice of wide breeding of the so-called hunting pheasant. At the same time, the fate of indigenous forms, including all those living in our country, is of great concern. The main reasons that threaten their existence are the chemicalization of agriculture, uncontrolled hunting and absorbing crossbreeding with a “hunting” pheasant, released by hunting farmers in conditions of complete anarchy and lack of scientific control. The destruction of the original habitats of pheasants - tugai vegetation is not so tragic, since the pheasant easily gets along with a person in the absence of persecution on his part, and finds everything for himself in agrocenoses, especially where gardens alternate with fields and small areas of wild shrubs.

The high settledness of pheasants makes them promising for hunting farms, and the effectiveness of the simplest biotechnical measures (sowing berry bushes, top dressing in winter, protection of breeding areas) immediately gives a good effect. As long as there is a threat from various chemicals, it is necessary for each subspecies, until it’s too late, to create nurseries for aviary breeding, which is easily feasible on the basis of existing reserves and sanctuaries.

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