Crossoptilon mantchuricumbrown eared pheasant(Also: brown eared-pheasant)

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Geographic Range

Brown eared-pheasants are indigenous to western China, Mongolia, and Tibet (Delacour, 1958; Harper, 1986). (Delacour, 1958; Harper, 1986)

Habitat

These pheasants are found on the slopes of mountains and occur throughout the high plateaus of their geographic range (Delacour, 1958) at 1100 to 2600 m (Madge and McGowan, 2002). They are terrestrial, temperate birds and are found in mixed coniferous and deciduous forests with an understory of shrubs (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (Delacour, 1958; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

  • Range elevation
    1100 to 2600 m
    3608.92 to 8530.18 ft

Physical Description

Brown eared-pheasants may reach 100 cm in length (Harper, 1986). Male wing length ranges from 270 to 312 mm, and female wing length ranges from 265 to 290 mm. Tail length for males and females measures 518 to 582 mm and 447 to 576 mm, respectively. Tarsal length for males and females is around 100 mm. Males weigh 1650 to 2475 g, while females weigh 1450 to 2025 g (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Overall, females are usually smaller and lack leg spurs. Males are mostly dark brown on the head, neck, and upper chest. They have long cream-colored or whitish tail beathers (Harper, 1986) that terminate in a brownish-black, glossy purplish-blue (Johnsgard, 1986). The tail has two central feathers that have soft, drooping veins much like Ostrich feathers (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Males have a characteristic large red eye patch with buff to brown-colored tufts beneath the eyes extending toward the back of the head in a most distinguished fashion (Harper, 1986). In fact, these tufts are reminiscent of a handle-bar moustache (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Wing coverts are glossy purplish, and the lower back, rump and upper tail is silvery white. The underparts are brown in color. The beak is a light reddish color, and the legs are crimson. The male develops wattles and leg spurs (Johnsgard, 1986). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    1450 to 2475 g
    51.10 to 87.22 oz
  • Range length
    100 (high) cm
    39.37 (high) in

Reproduction

Sometimes, brown eared-pheasants form permanent pair-bonds (Madge and McGowan, 2002). These pheasants are not aggressive, even during the breeding season (Harper, 1986).

During the breeding season, male brown eared-pheasants will utter a "trip crrrr ah" call that starts out softly, but increases in volume. The call may last for as long as one minute (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Males will utter the call very intensively in the spring, although both male and female will call throughout the rest of year. Male pheasants may perch on a boulder or the lower branch of an oak tree or stand on the ground to utter their challenging calls to establish breeding territories (Johnsgard, 1986).

Male brown eared-pheasants will tidbit during courtship (present the female with food). They will then adopt a lateral posture, enlarge their wattles, droop their primary wing feathers, and fan their tail. The female will crouch and engage in a head-weaving motion where her beak is tucked in toward her chest. Copulation occurs shortly thereafter (Johnsgard, 1986). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002; Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002; Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

The breeding season for brown eared-pheasants is from April to June. Breeding occurs in the second year despite development of adult plumage earlier (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986).

A clutch consists of five to eight eggs (Harper, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002), although there have been reports of clutch sizes ranging from 4 to 22 eggs. The female usually lays smaller clutches during her first year and for second broods if the first clutch is lost (Madge and McGowan, 2002). In captivity, eggs are laid every other day (Johnsgard, 1986). The eggs are a pale stone green in color (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Egg size averages 53 by 39 mm and the weight ranges from 44.5 to 60 g (Johnsgard, 1986). Incubation lasts 26 to 27 days; the female is the sole incubator (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Hatchlings weigh on average 40 g. After four weeks, young birds weigh on average 309 g. (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

  • Breeding interval
    A second brood will be attempted within one season if the first brood is lost.
  • Breeding season
    April to June
  • Range eggs per season
    4 to 22
  • Range time to hatching
    26 to 27 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Incubation lasts 26 to 27 days; the female is the sole incubator (Madge and McGowan, 2002). Young are precocial. (Madge and McGowan, 2002)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

We do not have information on lifespan/longevity for this species at this time.

Behavior

Often, brown eared-pheasants are found in groups of 10 to 30 birds. Sometimes, birds form permanent pair-bonds within the group (Madge and McGowan, 2002), especially during the winter (Johnsgard, 1986). These pheasants are not aggressive, even during the breeding season (Harper, 1986).

Male pheasants may perch on a boulder or the lower branch of an oak tree or stand on the ground to utter their challenging call to establish a breeding territory (Johnsgard, 1986). As part of their daily routine, these birds will leave wooded roosting sites and head to grassy meadows, then return to the roosting sites by evening (Johnsgard, 1986). (Harper, 1986; Johnsgard, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

Home Range

We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

During the breeding season, male brown eared-pheasants will utter a "trip crrrr ah" call that starts out softly, but increases in volume. The call may last for as long as one minute (Madge and McGowan, 2002). The male will utter the call very intensively in the spring, although both male and female will call throughout the rest of year. (Madge and McGowan, 2002)

Food Habits

These birds forage on the ground looking for insects, seeds, and vegetation; they also dig for roots (Harper, 1986). Brown eared-pheasants will also dig in and around clumps of grass to find bulbs, tubers, and other underground vegetative materials to eat (Madge and McGowan, 2002). (Harper, 1986; Madge and McGowan, 2002)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • seeds, grains, and nuts

Predation

When threatened by raptors (order Falconiformes), brown eared-pheasants will freeze in place. When threatened by mammals (class Mammalia), they will run uphill or to nearby cover (Johnsgard, 1986). (Johnsgard, 1986)

Ecosystem Roles

Brown eared-pheasants have an impact on the vegetation they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Captive-breeding of this and related Crossoptilon species have added to aviaries around the world (Harper, 1986). (Harper, 1986)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of brown eared-pheasants on humans.

Conservation Status

These pheasants are at a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future. The result of habitat loss and hunting has been a rapid decline in populations in unprotected areas. In protected areas, populations of brown eared-pheasants have remained stable. These pheasants occur in small areas as fragmented populations and are found in no more than ten locations.

These pheasants were wide-spread until the 1930's. Loss of forest habitat and hunting contributed to their decline. In protected areas, brown eared-pheasant are still under pressure because of human activities. Mushroom collectors and egg collection has contributed to nesting failures as high as 78% is some areas (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

The Pheasant Trust has been involved in breeding brown eared-pheasants and white eared-pheasants (Wayre, 1979). This organization's mission is to breed endangered pheasant species in captivity, and when possible, reintroduce young birds into the wild in their native land, provided that suitable habitat still exists (Wayre, 1979).

Brown eared-pheasants are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and as Appendix I by CITES. (BirdLife International 2000, 2003; Madge and McGowan, 2002; Wayre, 1979)

Other Comments

Brown eared-pheasants were the first Crossoptilon species to be bred in captivity. The first pheasants were bred in 1864 in Paris (Harper, 1986). These pheasants were imported to London from the French stock in 1866 (Delacour, 1958).

Brown eared-pheasants are closely related to Crossoptilon crossoptilon (white eared-pheasant) and Crossoptilon auritum (blue eared-pheasant). White eared-pheasants were imported to the United States in 1935, and a small stock has been developed and maintained (Delacour, 1958; Harper, 1986). White eared-pheasants lack the tufts extending toward the back of the head (Harper, 1986). Blue eared-pheasants are the most common in captivity (Delacour, 1958; Harper, 1986) and are considered the most beautiful by some aviculturalists (Delacour, 1958). (Delacour, 1958; Harper, 1986)

Contributors

Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

visual

uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

BirdLife International 2000, 2003. "Crossoptilon mantchuricum. In: IUCN 2003. 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed 12/08/2003 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=5682.

Delacour, J. 1958. The Blue Eared Pheasant. Avicultural Magazine, 64(1): 1-2.

Harper, D. 1986. Pet Birds for Home and Garden. London: Salamander Books Ltd.

Johnsgard, P. 1986. The Pheasants of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.

Wayre, P. 1979. The Pheasant Trust. Avicultural Magazine, 85(4): 224-231.