Phasianus colchicus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 271 (1766) ; Naum. vi. p. 433, Taf. 162 ; Hewitson, i. p. 276, pl. Ixviii. ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 247 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iv. pl. 12 ; Dresser, vii. p. 85, pl. 469 ; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxii. p. 320 ; Saunders, p. 499 ; Lilford, iv. p. 114, pl. 51 ; P. c. septentrionalis, Lorenz, J. f. O. 1888, p. 572.
Faisan, French ; Fagiano, Ital. ; Edelfasan, German ; Fasan, Swed. ; Madsharski-Petuck, Russ.
Male ad. (Asia Minor). Head and upper neck black, on the crown and nape glossed with bottle-green, and on the sides of the head, chin, and upper neck with violet-purple ; lower neck, breast, and upper back feathers black at the base, then rufescent golden margined with black, some with an apical black spot ; scapulars and rest of back coppery purple, most of the feathers with a central buff horseshoe mark ; quills dark brown slightly barred with ochreous buff ; wing-coverts golden olivaceous varied with ochreous and coppery purple ; rump anil upper tail-coverts fiery reddish glossed with purple ; tail golden olivaceous barred with black ; flanks like the breast but more golden orange in tinge ; middle of abdomen bluish black ; wattles on the sides of the head rich blood-red ; legs dull brown ; iris dark brown. Culmen 1.2, wing 9.3, tail 18.2, middle feathers 13.5 longer than the outside ones, tarsus 2.7 inch. The female has the upper parts blackish, broadly margined with clay-buff, the neck washed with vinaceous ; under parts clay-buff vermiculated with blackish, the black bases showing here and there especially on the flanks and neck ; quills and wing-coverts dark brown variegated with clay-buff ; tail dull ochreous vermiculated with blackish, the middle feathers blacker and tinged with rufous ; wattles absent.
Hab. South-eastern Europe (Greece and Turkey), Asia Minor, north to the Volga, south to the Caucasus, east to Transcaucasia ; introduced and naturalised in most parts of temperate Europe.
First introduced into England by the Romans, it is believed, the Pheasant has spread throughout the United Kingdom, and is one of our most esteemed game birds ; it inhabits the wood¬lands and groves, especially where the undergrowth is thick, and damp places, and feeds on grain of various kinds, acorns, beech-mast, and other seeds, berries, and insects, &c. The usual call is a loud cock, cock, cock, but the pairing note of the male is a feeble crow, and is followed by a clapping of the wings. The Pheasant is polygamous, and in the spring the males fight for the possession of the females. The nest is a depression in the soil lined with dry grass, roots, and leaves, and the eggs, usually 10 to 12 in number, are uniform pale olivaceous brown in colour, sometimes with a bluish tinge, and measure about 1.79 by 1.40.
It has been known to use a deserted owl’s or squirrel’s nest for the purpose of nidification, but this is uncommon, it being as a rule, a ground breeder. I have carefully compared specimens of Mr. Lorenz’s P. septentrionalis, and cannot find any difference between it and true P. colchicus.
911. Phasianus colchicus