Mikado pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado)

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Male mikado pheasant
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Mikado pheasant fact file

Mikado pheasant description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGalliformes
FamilyPhasianidae
GenusSyrmaticus (1)

The Mikado pheasant is revered as the national bird of Taiwan and often referred to locally as “king of the mist” (4). With its shimmering purplish-black plumage, the male of this large, elegant, long-tailed pheasant (Syrmaticus spp.) is much darker than other species of the genus. Contrasting starkly against this glossy dark plumage are conspicuous white bars on the rump, tail and wing, and bright crimson-red face wattles (5). Females are smaller, with an olive-brown plumage covered with pale specks, and their tail feathers are chestnut brown with clear black horizontal bars (6).

Also known as
Taiwan Long-tailed Pheasant.
Synonyms
Calophasis mikado.
Spanish
Faisán Mikado.
Size
Total male length: c. 87.5 cm (2)
Total female length: c. 53 cm (2)
Male tail length: 49 – 53 cm (2)
Female tail length: 17 – 22.5 cm (2)
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Mikado pheasant biology

The male Mikado pheasant performs the courtship display typical of most long-tailed pheasants, involving puffing up his feathers, flaring his conspicuous red face wattles, spreading his tail and ‘whirring’ his wings. Next, the cock approaches the hen, drops his wings to the ground and spreads his tail, pacing back and forth in front of the hen several times (8). Eggs-laying is thought to occur from late March until mid-July (2), into a nest made of dry leaves, twigs, grass and feathers, usually on the ground or in the trunk or branches of a fallen tree (4) (9). In captivity, five to ten white eggs are typically laid per clutch, and incubated for 28 days (2). The female is solely responsible for the incubation and nurture of fledglings (9).

Like other long-tailed pheasants, the Mikado pheasant feeds on berries, seeds, leaves, fern shoots, flower buds and insects (4) (10).

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Mikado pheasant range

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Mikado pheasant habitat

Usually found in conifer and mixed forests with dense undergrowth of rhododendron and bamboo, on steep mountain slopes between 1,600 and 3,300 m above sea level, and possibly higher (2) (4) (7).

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Mikado pheasant status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

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Mikado pheasant threats

The Mikado pheasant’s high-altitude habitat has not been as badly affected by deforestation as the lowlands, but these mountainous forests are becoming increasingly disturbed (11), particularly by infrastructure development and landslides (7). Nevertheless, the highest parts of its range are relatively secure, and this species is fortunately tolerant of secondary growth (7), breeding and surviving well in logged forests (12). Heavy hunting pressure for food and the cage-bird trade has been a problem in the past, and although now largely stopped (11), hunting appears to be returning at some sites, even within protected areas (7).

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Mikado pheasant conservation

Yushan National Park was recently estimated to hold approximately 10,000 individuals, and the species is also known from several other reserves and protected areas (2) (7). Sadly, however, the population may be declining outside of these areas (7) and more needs to be done to protect this striking pheasant if the long-term survival and prosperity of Taiwan’s national bird is to be safeguarded.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Mikado pheasant see:

Birding in Taiwan: International Taiwan Birding Association (ITBA):
http://www.birdingintaiwan.com/mikadopheasant.htm

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World - New World Vultures To Guineafowl. Vol. 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Wattle
Bare fleshy skin that hangs from the bill, throat or eye of birds.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World - New World Vultures To Guineafowl. Vol. 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (June, 2006)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Birding in Taiwan: International Taiwan Birding Association (ITBA) (August, 2006)
    http://www.birdingintaiwan.com/mikadopheasant.htm
  5. gbwf.org: Dedicated to the Aviculture and Conservation of the World’s Galliformes (August, 2006)
    http://www.gbwf.org/pheasants/mikado.html
  6. Taiwan’s ecological Conservation (August, 2006)
    http://www.gio.gov.tw/info/ecology/English/animals_e/HighAnimals_e/HighAnimals10_e.htm
  7. BirdLife International (August, 2006)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=269&m=0
  8. Pheasant Ridge (August, 2006)
    http://www.compusmart.ab.ca/kbush/mikadoarticle.htm
  9. The Digital Museum of Nature and Culture (August, 2006)
    http://ndap.nmns.edu.tw/eng/essential/knowledge/zo1/zo100000101400000/Module.jsp-ID=zo100000101470000.htm
  10. Delacour, J. (1951) The Pheasants of the World. Country Life Ltd., London.
  11. Zoological Museum of the University of Amsterdam (ZMA) (August, 2006)
    http://ip30.eti.uva.nl/zma3d/detail.php?id=135&sort=taxon&type=family
  12. Tragopan pheasantry (August, 2006)
    http://membres.lycos.fr/tragopan/english/e_mikado_pheasant.htm
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Image credit

Male mikado pheasant  
Male mikado pheasant

© Kenneth W. Fink / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

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