Swinhoe’s pheasant (Lophura swinhoii)
|Synonyms:||Euplocomus swinhoii, Hierophasis swinhoii|
|Spanish:||Faisán de Formosa, Faisán de Swinhoe|
|Size||Male length: c. 79 cm (2)|
Male tail length: 41 – 50 cm (2)
Female length: c. 50.5 cm (2)
Female tail length: 20 – 22 cm (2)
Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).
The Swinhoe’s pheasant cock is a spectacular bird, boasting a glossy black plumage with brilliant metallic blue lustre, and a bold and distinctive pattern of white patches on the upper back, crest and long central tail feathers (4) (5) (6). The shoulders are a dark, shimmering maroon, and conspicuous crimson-red legs and face wattles inject a splash of vibrant colour (4) (5). Females are smaller and mostly greyish-brown, speckled with triangular yellow-buff markings, for camouflage when incubating (6) (7).
Endemic to the mountains of Central Taiwan (8) (9).
Inhabits primary broadleaf forest, and occasionally also mature secondary hardwood forest, from 200 to 2,300 m above sea level (8) (9).
This pheasant roosts in trees at night (6) and forages on the ground by day, with most feeding seeming to occur in the morning and late afternoon, typically along trail edges (4) (9). Swinhoe’s pheasants have a varied diet, including acorns, berries, flower buds, leaves and other plant material, as well as a few earthworms, millipedes, termites and other insects (4) (9). Though these pheasants typically feed alone, they may be seen in small groups or with their young during the breeding season (6).
During the breeding season, from March until July, males perform impressive courtship displays to entice females to mate (4). This involves flaunting their brilliant metallic plumage and erecting their white crest and red face wattles, while they bob their head up and down, jump around and whirr their wings (2). Peak egg-laying probably occurs in March and May, although reports as late as October exist (9). Nests are built in highly secretive, well hidden places under large shelters, such as at the foot of a tree or under rocks, and occasionally in trees, where they are safe from the rain and predators (6) (9). Clutches of three to eight eggs are laid and then incubated for around 25 days (in captivity) by the female alone (4) (9).
In the past, Swinhoe’s pheasant suffered from heavy hunting pressure, but poaching no longer poses a serious threat (8). The species’ habitat has also been subject to a variety of pressures, and this bird is known to have become extinct in several areas in the 1960s and 1970s, although it apparently remains common where suitable habitat exists (8) (9). Numbers are thought to be stable in protected areas, but declining elsewhere as a result of ongoing pressures on its forest environment (8).
Swinhoe’s pheasant occurs in several protected areas, including Yushan National Park, where an estimated 6,500 individuals live (8). The greatest priority for the conservation of this, and other native, species in Taiwan must be to preserve the remaining tracts of forest that support them (6).
For more information on Swinhoe’s pheasant see:
Birding in Taiwan:
gbwf.org: Dedicated to the Aviculture and Conservation of the World’s Galliformes:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
- BirdLife International:
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- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Wattles: bare fleshy skin that hangs from the bill, throat or eye of birds.
IUCN Red List (June, 2013)