our animals

Lady Amherst Pheasant

Chrysolophus amherstiae

The male of the species has beautifully coloured feathers on its head and neck which it uses to attract a female in an elaborate mating dance. It is unmistakable with its nuchal cape which is white black, with a red crest. The long tail is greyish white black bars and red streaks at the base, the chest and belly are white, the throat is scaled green, the back is dark green, the wings are blue and brown, and the rump is yellow. The “cape” can be raised in display. The female is quite plain and blends in well with her surrounding habitat.

This bird gets its name from Sarah Countess Amherst, wife of the Governor General of Bengal, who was responsible for sending the first specimen of the bird to London in 1828. Lady Amherst first introduced the ornamental pheasant on her estates, near the Duke of Bedford’s Woburn Abbey, where the birds were also shot for game. Although the introduced British populations are believed to have been extinct since 2015, occasional sightings of the species have occurred in subsequent years.

They feed on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrates, but roost in trees at night. Whilst they can fly, they prefer to run, but if startled they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive wing sound.

fun facts

Conservation Status:

Least concern


Southwestern China and Myanmar


Bamboo thickets and forests


Grains, leaves, invertebrates





Incubation period:

24-26 days

Life Span:

10-15 yrs