Mikado pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado)

Also known as: Taiwan Long-tailed Pheasant
Synonyms: Calophasis mikado
Spanish: Faisán Mikado
GenusSyrmaticus (1)
SizeTotal 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)

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

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).

Endemic to the mountains of central Taiwan (7).

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).

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).

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).

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.

For more information on the Mikado pheasant see:

Birding in Taiwan: International Taiwan Birding Association (ITBA):

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:

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

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)