The Golden pheasant is a colorful bird native to forests in mountainous areas of China. The adult male is unmistakable with its golden crest and rump and bright red body. The deep orange "cape" can be spread in display, appearing as an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the face except its bright yellow eye with a pinpoint black pupil. The female is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage. The female's breast and sides are barred buff and blackish brown, and the abdomen is plain buff. She has a buff face and throat. Some abnormal females may later in their lifetime get some male plumage. Both males and females have yellow legs and yellow bills.
Golden pheasants are found in western China. They prefer dense conifer forests in mountainous regions but can also be found in mixed forests with thick shrubs.
Golden pheasants are sedentary and generally solitary birds; outside of the breeding season, they prefer to stay singly. These are mainly terrestrial birds. While they can fly clumsily in short bursts, they prefer to run and spend most of their time on the ground. They feed on the ground but roost in trees at night. During winter, flocks often forage close to human settlements at the edge of the forest, taking primarily wheat leaves and seeds. If startled, they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed and with a distinctive wing sound. Golden pheasants communicate with a wide range of calls that are used in different situations. Their main call sounds as 'chack chack' and in the breeding season males produce a metallic call.
Golden pheasants are herbivores (frugivores, granivores, folivores). They eat berries, grubs, seeds, leaves, tender shoots of shrubs and bamboos, some flowers, and other types of vegetation. Occasionally they make take insects and spiders.
Golden pheasants are monogamous and form pairs, however, some males may exhibit polygynous behavior and have harems of up to eight females. These birds nest on the ground in dense bushes or in tall grass. The female lays 5-12 eggs in a shallow depression and incubates them for 22-23 days. Chicks are precocial; they are hatched with eyes open and can move and feed very soon after hatching. Young females usually reach maturity at 1 year of age, while males become mature when they are 2 years old.
Golden pheasants are not threatened at present, but populations may be declining in some areas due to deforestation, hunting for food, and capture for cagebird trade.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Golden pheasant total population size. According to the IUCN Red List, approximately 1,000-2,000 individuals live now in the UK. Currently, Golden pheasants are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but their numbers today are decreasing.