Peacock Pheasants

Malayan Peacock Pheasant male (photo taken at Don Butler's collection, NC)

Grey Peacock Pheasant male

Palawan Peacock Pheasant male (photo taken at Don Butler's collection, NC)

Germain's Peacock Pheasant hen (photo taken at Kelly McMullen's collection, LA)

Peacock pheasants belong to the genus Polyplectron, which means "many spurs." This is a characteristic in peacock pheasants for them to have one or more sets of spurs on their legs. There are eight species of peacock pheasants that are as follows: Grey, Germain's, Palawan, Mountain (Rothschild's), Hainan, Bronze-tailed, Malayan, and Bornean (Hainan and Bornean are not found in U.S. aviculture). These pheasants inhabit various parts of Asia; therefore, they are tropical birds that require heat in northern climates. There is decent variation between the species, but the males of each species have moderately-sized tails marked with vibrant ocelli. During their breeding displays, the males open up their tails, as a peacock fans his train. 

Peacock pheasants are monogamous and should only be kept as pairs. Since they are such small birds, it is a good idea to keep them in separate pens and not with other pheasants. Peacock pheasants do not need expansive aviaries as do some pheasant species, which is a plus. Peacock pheasants have many additional pros, but they are certainly not a beginner's pheasant. In the wild, they are insectivores, so it is a good idea to offer captive birds mealworms. My peacock pheasants receive more fruits and vegetables in comparison to other pheasant species, and I do find that they are slightly more picky with what they will eat. The hens lay small clutches of two eggs (some species just lay one egg per clutch), though they can produce a few clutches in a given season if natural incubation is not allowed. The chicks are very small when they hatch and they can be challenging to get eating. Once an individual has had success breeding pheasants, it would be best to acquire the Grey Peacock Pheasant prior to any of the others. They are the most affordable and hardiest. Each species has something special in store and it's certain that one cannot get bored with working with peacock pheasants. 

I keep two species of peacock pheasants: Grey Peacock Pheasant and Palawan Peacock Pheasant. Below you will find images and specific information about these two species.


Grey Peacock Pheasant

Grey Peacock Pheasants (Polyplectron bicalcaratum) are considered Least Concern by the IUCN. They are native to southeast Asia. In aviculture, they are the most commonly kept peacock pheasant species. Being a tropical species, they are unable to take the cold very well, although they are the most cold hardy peacock pheasant. Some northern breeders house them indoors out of the elements and say their birds fare well, but I personally heat mine during the winter. Being a tropical species, they can lay year round, though mine begin to lay their first clutches early winter. Their clutches consist of two eggs, which have an incubation period of 21 days. I have not found Grey Peacock Pheasant eggs to be tricky to incubate, though the chicks are not quite the same. To raise these chicks, I personally take the role of their mother; when the hen raises her chicks, she picks food up in her beak and feeds the chicks in that manner. Eventually it comes down to coming up with a method that works for you, as there are many options to be successful with them.

Grey Peacock Pheasant male

Grey Peacock Pheasant male

Grey Peacock Pheasant hen

Grey Peacock Pheasant hen


Palawan Peacock Pheasant

Palawan Peacock Pheasants (Polyplectron napoleonis) are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. They are native to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. They are undoubtedly one of the most colorful peacock pheasant species. They are relatively expensive when compared to other species of peacock pheasant, and this reflects their status in captivity. When people refer to Palawan Peacock Pheasants, they are often referred to as single-barred or double-barred. This nomenclature refers to the facial markings on the head of the male. The single-barred males only have a circular, white cheek patch, while the double-barred males have a white cheek patch and a white eyebrow stripe. There are also other slight phenotypic variations, but many of the captive birds are a mix of the two. It is increasingly harder to find prime examples of either. Nonetheless, double-barred Palawan Peacock Pheasants do seem to be more commonly kept. This species definitely requires heating for the winter months in a northern climate. Also a tropical species, they tend to start laying early winter. Their clutches consist of two eggs, which are incubated for 18-19 days. Palawan Peacock Pheasants are purportedly more challenging to breed and rear their chicks. Palawan Peacock Pheasants are a relatively new addition to the collection, so I am not taking any orders for this species. More images and information will be added at a later date.  

Two year old Palawan Peacock Pheasant male acquiring adult plumage

Palawan Peacock Pheasant hen

Two year old Palawan Peacock Pheasant male

Palawan Peacock Pheasant male portrait

Two year old Palawan Peacock Pheasant male acquiring adult plumage

Juvenile Palawan Peacock Pheasants (male in front)