The Elliot's Pheasant is native to Southeastern China and is one of 5 species of the genus Syrmaticus. The Elliot is monotypic (they have no subspecies). In the wild they are of near threatened status due to habitat loss. Luckily they do pretty well in captivity so hopefully the species have a decent chance of survival. Of course it would be much better to have them thriving in the wild as well. My hope is that if breeders can continue to do well with their birds, at some time, the Elliot's may well be able to be reinstated in good habitats in their natural environment.
The Elliot cock is an imposing and handsome bird and the hen bonny and intricately marked. Much of the cock's upper body is a gorgeous dark copper colour, with a back of black feathers edged in white and a tail which is heavily barred. I particularly love all the variation and not only due to all the contrasting colours and markings. There is also the impression of deep velvet, from the soft grey of the head graduating to white through the neck and then an exquisite switch to a satin like appearance of the chestnut chest and shoulders. I would defy any world class designer not to be inspired by these birds.
Elliot's, like the others in their genus, are hardy birds and also fairly quiet. They enjoy the usual pheasant diet, which as well as their game bird pellets, includes nuts and mixed grain, some fruit and a little live food on occasion. They are not particularly big grass eaters but do appreciate a nibble. We tend to rotate them round our aviaries to allow other birds to eat the grass once it starts to "get away" from the Elliot's. Long grass doesn't get the chance to stay that way with most pheasants but the Elliot's are rather kind to plant life.
We are fairly new to keeping Elliot's. This is only our third year with them but they've not been problematic for us so far. The only issue we've had is one of the cocks eating eggs but as the hen was very regular in her egg laying activities it was easy enough to shut him in his shed for an hour or two, on the days she was expected to lay, and we still managed to get plenty of fertile eggs from her. This didn't seem to be particularly stressful to the cock who, within only a few days of this new routine, knew he was to go to his shed for peanuts and seemed quite happy to do so. Problem solved.
Our Elliot's have, so far, started laying in late March with even our 1st year birds producing fertile eggs before April. They lay clutches of around 7 or 8 eggs and, when the eggs are taken from them, will proceed to clutch two without much of a break. The eggs are very small being similar in size, or even smaller, to that of Golden Pheasant eggs but they are slighlty pinker in colour. The chicks although extremely dainty have been easy to rear and the youngsters have mixed with other species fairly well. I think one of our biggest problems with newly hatched chicks was trying to keep their tiny leg rings on them for the first few days.
I am extremely pleased with the success we've had with our Elliot's and hope it continues with new bloodlines when we source them. They have been an excellent addition to our menagerie and one we intend to keep for the forseeable future.