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Reeves’s Pheasant: Facts, Uses, Origins & Characteristics (with Pictures)

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If you’re looking for a bird to add a real “wow factor” to your farm or aviary, the Reeves’s pheasant could be just the feathered friend you’ve been waiting for. Full of color and sporting one truly magnificent tail, these birds are sure to cause a stir. And because their wild populations are in jeopardy (more on that later!) raising Reeves’s pheasants may even help ensure the survival of the species. Read on to learn more about the Reeves’s pheasant and what it takes to care for them.

binoculars 3 dividerQuick Facts about Reeves’s Pheasant

Breed Name: Reeves’s pheasant, long-tailed pheasant
Place of Origin: China
Uses: Hunting, ornamental, species survival
Cock (Male) Size: 82 inches long, including tail
Hen (Female) Size: 59 inches long, including tail
Color: Chestnut, brown, black, and white
Lifespan: 9 years
Climate Tolerance: Good temperature tolerance needs to stay dry
Care Level: Moderate
Production: 36 eggs/breeding season

Reeves’s Pheasant Origins

The Reeves’s pheasant is native to the mountains and forests of central China. The birds were first brought to the United Kingdom in 1831 by a naturalist named John Reeves, hence their name. Reeves’s pheasants have now been introduced to other countries, including the United States, France, and the Czech Republic.

Outside of their native China, Reeves’s pheasants are primarily kept as captive breeding stock although escaped birds tend to thrive in the wild.

Reeves’s Pheasant Characteristics

Reeves’s pheasants, especially males, are distinguished by their exceptionally long tails. In fact, Reeves’s pheasants hold the world record for longest tail feathers on a wild bird. Their tails regularly reach 6 feet in length but can be as long as 8 feet.

In the wild, Reeves’s pheasants are primarily found in forests, occasionally farmlands as well. They forage and nest on the ground and roost in trees at night.

In captivity, Reeves’s pheasants need a completely enclosed space because they are strong fliers and can easily escape. Because of the length of their tail feathers, Reeves’s pheasants need plenty of space in their enclosure to avoid damage.

Male Reeves’s pheasants are known to be aggressive towards their own species as well as humans and other birds. They’re especially fierce during the breeding season, as they search for and then protect their mates and nests. In captivity, males must be kept separate from each other or they will fight.

Females generally build the nest and incubate the eggs on their own. Males have several mates during each breeding season. Reeves’s pheasants lay about 6-10 eggs per nest, which hatch in 24-25 days. Even the chicks are aggressive and should not be kept with other types of chicks if being hatched and raised in captivity.

Uses

Reeves’s pheasants are primarily raised for ornamental purposes. Their beautiful coloring and stunning tails make them quite an eye-catching addition to farms and aviaries. Raising chicks and eggs for sale is another common use for these pheasants.

Captive breeding of Reeves’s pheasants also serves an important purpose in ensuring the survival of the species, due to the decline in their wild population.

Appearance & Varieties

The male Reeves’s pheasant is one of the most striking-looking birds to be found. Their heads are black and white, with brown eyes and greenish bills. Their bodies are primarily a light chestnut color, with an overlaid pattern of black. The exact feather pattern can vary between birds.

Their breasts may be black or chestnut, with gray feet. The tail of the male Reeves’s pheasant grows about 12 inches per year and is molted along with the rest of their feathers on a regular cycle. These tails are a buff-orange color with a black and white pattern.

Female Reeves’s pheasants are both smaller and less interestingly colored than the males. Their faces are light brown with a dark mask and their bodies are a mix of chestnut, buff, and brown coloring. Young Reeves’s pheasants are similar to the females in appearance.

Population

reeves pheasant close up shot

Image Credit: AllanW, Pixabay

The wild population of Reeves’s pheasants has been declining for years. They are considered a vulnerable species with only 3,500-15,000 estimated remaining in their natural range.

Habitat loss due to deforestation is the primary threat to the survival of these birds. They are also poached illegally to obtain their gorgeous tail feathers.

Globally, the Reeves’s pheasant is kept in captivity in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S. Some escaped birds have created small breeding populations in areas like Hawaii and France.

While their wild populations are declining, Reeves’s pheasants maintain a stable presence in zoos, aviaries, and private breeding farms.

Are Reeves’s Pheasant Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Reeves’s pheasants can be tricky for small-scale farmers to raise. While they’re fairly easy to feed and don’t require a lot of maintenance, the amount of space required to keep even one Reeves’s pheasant is more than for many other poultry or game birds.

Because they’re prone to aggression, working with Reeves’s pheasants is more complicated. They are also logistically harder to manage especially during breeding season because males must be kept separate and even the chicks must be raised apart from other types of birds.

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Conclusion

While Reeves’s pheasants are gorgeous birds, their personalities and the amount of space required to keep them could make some think twice about owning them. For these birds, it’s especially vital to be realistic about your goals and abilities as a small-scale farmer before adding Reeves’s pheasants to your animal family.


Featured Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH, Shutterstock

About the Author Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally--she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa with her family, pet Husky and the worldʻs most patient cat. When not writing, she enjoys watching all sports but especially soccer, reading, and spending time outdoors with her family.

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