MORE brilliant than any parrot or Bird of Paradise, the Gold Pheasant is nevertheless not an inhabitant of the tropics, but of the temperate climate of the mountains of China.
It has been bred here for over a hundred years, and has been lately said to be now living in a wild state in the south of Scotland. No doubt it would be oftener invited to inhabit our British woodlands were it not for the fact that, though considerably smaller, it is more than a match for the common pheasant and drives this bird away.
It is therefore generally kept in aviaries-where it proves tamer and easier to rear than the common bird. The hens, how-ever, will seldom sit, so their young are generally reared under fowls. They need more animal food and natural green stuff than ordinary chicks, and the eggs taice a few days longer to hatch.
When the cockerels are feathered, their eyes turn yellow, those of the pullets always remaining dark brown. The two sexes should not be kept together after this – except of course a cock and his hen or hens – as the cocks are very fierce; but if kept apart from hens several males may he lodged together, presenting a wonderful sight when their gold and scarlet plumage has developed, which it does not do till they are fully a year old.
This rich plumage is greatly esteemed for artificial fly-dressing, and, as the birds tlirow off their feathers very rapidly in moulting, it is possible to take all that are required at such times without harming them, as is done with the wool of Angora rabbits.
Gold pheasants are fed when adult on poultry corn and green stuff. It is a good thing to have part of their aviary wire-roofed and planted with grass and privet on which they may feed. Their perches should be stout as for fowls, and put under the roofed portion of the aviary, as well as a dust-bath. They need, of course, grit, shell, and clean drinking-water.
The hen not unf requently assumes a very fairly complete imitation of the cocks plumage, but in such a case she retains her dark eyes.
Her ordinary plumago is cross-barred with black on a brown ground; her legs should be decidedly yellow, a bluish or greenish tinge on them showing a cross of the Amherst pheasant, which inspires the depth of colour in the cock birds bred from hons tainted with this alien blood.