Head and neck metallic green, glossed with blue; breast and flanks reddish orange with purple reflections, the feathers edged and tipped with violet black.
P. Colchicus, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. II. p. 453. Id. Pig. et Gall. torn. II. p. 289. Common Pheasant, Mont. Orn. Diet. Selb. Must. vol. I. p. 417. pl. 57.
Entire length three feet: length of the bill (from the forehead) one inch two lines, (from the gape) one inch four lines; of the tarsus three inches; of the tail one foot nine inches; from the carpus to the end of the wing ten inches: breadth, wings extended, two feet seven inches six lines. (Male).
(Male). Head and neck of a rich metallic green, passing beneath into blue and violet; on each side of the occiput a tuft of dark golden green feathers capable of being erected at will, and most conspicuous in the breeding season: a large naked space on the cheeks, thickly studded with scarlet papillae intermixed with minute black specks: lower part of the neck, breast, belly, and sides, of a brilliant orange red, with a faint tinge of purple, each feather being edged and tipped with violet black; lower part of the abdomen, and thighs, blackish brown: scapulars, and feathers on the back, dusky brown in the middle, broadly edged with purplish orange, within which is a yellowish white band; lower part of the back, tail-coverts, and saddle-hackle feathers, exhibiting different shades of green, intermixed with orange and purple: primary and secondary quills dusky brown, with yellowish white bars: tertials and wing-coverts reddish yellow, stained and spotted with dark purple-red: tail long, and very much cuneated, of an olive-gray, or grayish brown colour, with transverse black bars, each feather being fringed with purplish red: bill pale horn-colour: irides yellowish orange: feet grayish black: spurs sharp and pointed, half an inch or more in length. (Female). Smaller: general colour of the plumage yellowish brown, variegated with gray and rufous; head, neck, and upper part of the body, with the central portion of each feather black: region of the eyes feathered: tail much shorter than in the male bird, but barred in a similar manner. ( Young of the year, till after the first moult). Of a uniform gray colour, somewhat resembling the adult female: spur of the male short and blunt. Varieties, white and pied, are not unfrequent. (Egg). Uniform olive-brown: long. diam. one inch ten lines; trans, diam. one inch five lines.
Var.ß. Ring Pheasant. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol.i. p. 321. With a collar of white round the neck. This variety, which is not uncommon, has originally proceeded from a cross between this and the following species, with which last it must not be confounded.
Var, y. Hybrid Pheasant. (Male). Head, neck, and breast, deep brownish black, with a slight gloss of bottle-green; the rest of the plumage above and below the body, scapulars and wing-coverts, deep red brown, the feathers edged with glossy black, and many of them streaked with yellow down the shafts: tail shorter than in the common Pheasant, compressed, and slightly arched, of a deep brown, approaching to black, variegated with specks and transverse undulating lines of ochre-yellow. (Female). Head, neck, and breast, dull brown without the gloss of green; a greater portion of the upper plumage reddish or yellowish brown; many of the feathers without the black border: tail brown, barred with reddish yellow; more cuneated than in the male bird. This variety, which is occasionally met with, is an hybrid production between the Common Pheasant and the Domestic Fowl. The plumage is of course subject to considerable variation. The above descriptions were taken from a pair in the museum of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Is sometimes called a Pero. The female has been known to breed again with the male Game-Fowl.
Supposed to have been brought originally from the banks of the Phasis, a river of ancient Colchis. Common at present throughout the greater part of Asia and Europe. Period of its first introduction into Britain uncertain. As a naturalized species, is generally distributed throughout England, but considered rare in Scotland. Frequents woods. Is polygamous, like the Domestic Cock. Commences laying in April, and hatches towards the end of May. Number of eggs from ten to fourteen, deposited on the ground, amongst long grass, or in cornfields; sometimes in thick copses. Barren hens, which have partially assumed the spurs and plumage of the cock, are not unfrequently met with, and are termed by sportsmen Mule-Birds.