Swinhoe's pheasant (Lophura swinhoii) is a bird of the pheasant subfamily in the fowl family Phasianidae. It is endemic to Taiwan. Along with the Mikado Pheasant and Taiwan Magpie, the Swinhoe's Pheasant is sometimes considered an unofficial national symbol for Taiwan as it bears the colours of the national flag.
The male Swinhoe's Pheasant can grow up to 79 cm. He has a glossy blue-purple chest, belly and rump, white nape, red wattles, white tail feathers, and a white crest. The female is brown marked with yellow spots and complex barring patterns, and has maroon outer rectrices. The juvenile male is dark blue with brown and yellow patterns on its wings. Swinhoe's Pheasants can also be distinguished by having red legs.
During display, the male's wattles become engorged and he performs a display consisting of a hop followed by running in a circle around females. A frontal display with the tail fanned is occasionally observed. He also does a wing-whirring display like other Lophura pheasants.
The bird is limited to the mountains of central Taiwan, where it lives in forest habitat up to 2,300 meters in elevation.
Swinhoe's pheasant eats seeds, fruits, and some insects and other animal matter. Predators include the crested goshawk as well as civets and badgers.
The female lays a clutch of 2 to 6 eggs which are incubated for 25 to 28 days. The young can leave the nest at 2 to 3 days old. It is often assumed the Swinhoe's Pheasant is polygynous, though naturalist William Beebe asserted the species was monogamous.
This pheasant has a small population in a limited range which is shrinking due to habitat degradation. Logging is a problem. It was hunted in the past and some populations were extirpated in the 1960s and 1970s. Today its global population is estimated to be over 10,000 individuals. Some populations are secure within protected areas, but others may be declining. Alongside the Mikado Pheasant and Taiwan Magpie, they are sometimes unofficially considered national symbols, which has helped in their conservation and protection. In some areas such as Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area, they are regularly sighted feeding along roadsides which have become birdwatching hotspots. Often they are fed by bird photographers, which has considered a controversial practice by some conservationists and liable to a fine by park officials.
The bird was named after the British naturalist Robert Swinhoe, who first described the species in 1862. Locally, the species is known in Mandarin as Lánfùxián (藍腹鷴), literally the blue-breasted pheasant, or in Taiwanese Hokkien as Wa-Koe (華雞).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lophura swinhoii.|