Mongolian ringneck-type
common pheasant cock
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Horsfield, 1821
Subfamily: Phasianinae
Horsfield, 1821


Pheasants (/ˈfɛzənt/) are birds of several genera within the subfamily Phasianinae, of the family Phasianidae in the order Galliformes. The family's native range is restricted to Asia.

Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly decorated with bright colors and adornments such as wattles. Males are usually larger than females and have longer tails. Males play no part in rearing the young.

Pheasants typically eat seeds and some insects.

The best-known is the common pheasant, which is widespread throughout the world, in introduced feral populations and in farm operations. Various other pheasant species are popular in aviaries, such as the golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus).


According to the OED, the word “pheasant” ultimately comes from Phasis, the ancient name of what is now called the Rioni River in Georgia. It passed from Greek to Latin to French (spelled with an initial “f”) then to English, appearing for the first time in English around the year 1299.

Species in taxonomic order

This list is ordered to show presumed relationships between species.

Previous classifications

Euplocamus and Gennceus are older names more or less corresponding to the current Lophura.

These old genera were used for:

Vernacular Hume & Marshall Finn: Sporting Birds Finn: Game Birds Contemporary
Vieillot's crested firebackE. viellotiLophura rufa (sic)L. ignita rufa
Black-backed kalijE. melanonotusG. melanonotusL. leucomelanos melanota
Common or white-crested kalijE. albocristatusG. albocristatusL. leucomelanos hamiltoni
Nepal kalijE. leucomelanusG. leucomelanusL. leucomelanos leucomelanos
Purple, Horsfield's or black-breasted kalijE. horsfieldiG. horsfieldiL. leucomelanos lathami
Lineated kalijE. lineatusG. lineatus also: Burmese silver pheasantL. leucomelanos lineata
Anderson's silver pheasant?G. andersoni, considered hybrid of L. nycthemera and L. l. lineataL. nycthemera andersoni (invalid)
Crawfurd's silver pheasant (or Crawford's? )E. andersoniconsidered a further cross of Anderson's and L. l. lineata?
Crawfurd's kalij (same as C.'s silver pheasant?)?G. andersoniL. leucomelanos crawfurdi
Cuvier's kalij?G. cuvieri?
Oates's kalij?G. oatesiL. leucomelanos oatesi
Whitehead's silver pheasant?G. whiteheadi?
Swinhoe's kalij?G. swinhoiiL. swinhoii


    • Beebe, William. 1918-22. A Monograph of the Pheasants. 1st edition in 4 volumes: H. F. Witherby, London. Reprint: 1990, Dover Publications.(4 volumes bound as 2). ISBN 0-486-26579-X and ISBN 0-486-26580-3. Republished as: Pheasants: Their Lives and Homes. 2 vols. 1926. Single volume edition: New York Zoological Society, 1936.)
    • Green-Armytage, Stephen. 2002. Extraordinary Pheasants.Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York. Book ISBN 0-8109-1007-1.
    • Madge and McGowan, Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse ISBN 0-7136-3966-0
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