The peacock pheasants get their name because of the "eyes" or ocelli on their plumage. They are the smallest of the pheasants and because they are not as hardy as many of the other pheasant species, should have a heated shelter for the worst of our winter weather. A brooder lamp tends to do the job fine. The Grey Peacock Pheasant does well in a small - medium sized aviary so would be fine for anyone with a smaller garden. We would not keep any of our birds in an aviary smaller than 12' X 12' but, although a bigger pen would obviously be better, this size would be adequate for a pair of Peacock Pheasants.
The Grey Peacock Pheasant starts to breed in late February - March with younger birds in their first breeding season usually being later than any older birds. They can sometimes breed in their 1st year but it is not unusual to have to wait until the second year for fertile eggs. The hens only lay one or two eggs in a clutch but will lay a few clutches in the season. Even though they atart laying early in the year they can continue laying well after the summer. We tend to have a shorter season with them here than breeders in the South, which I think is likely to do with the lack of sunshine in Scotland, but they still often lay in August and sometimes September. I do hear, from time to time, of other breeders with birds producing chicks as late as November.
The peacock pheasants are among the most insectivorous of the pheasants enjoying all kinds of live food. Our peacock pheasants also have treats of peanuts and mixed seeds and some fruit. They are not big lovers of fruit but do tuck into berries, ours especially seem to like their raspberries and currants. We include plants in their aviaries which for at least part of the year encourage many insects into the lair. Some of the plants we use are: fennel, egg plant, nasturtium, clover, buddleia and many others especially native ones including weeds.
We have never had any problems pairing these birds as they are more docile than most and will always accept whatever partner they are given. They are lovely little birds and the hardiest of the Peacock Pheasants. The cocks tend to be a bit hardier than the hens which are only about half the size of the male. The cock puts on a wonderful display for his partner (and often guests to his aviary) showing off all his beautiful plumage. He spreads his wings and tail to their fullest behind him and leans forward with his crown feathers facing forward over his beak. He will also often raise his wings and tail in a side on display.
The chicks are more robust than they look and are funnily, along with the Palawan Peacock Pheasants we rear, the noisiest of all the chicks. This is most likely due to the amount of time the hen would spend feeding them in the wild, as they would no doubt call to her when hungry. Other pheasant species will peck away at everything finding their own food much of the time as, even though the mother will help them, they are not quite as dependent as the Peacock Pheasants. We've not found getting them to eat a problem (although I've read elsewhere it can be). Our chicks are reared alongside other species and they will often be seen pecking cooked egg yolk off the beaks of their brooder mates. The yolk is a great starter for them alongside their chick crumb and they seem to be attracted to it immediately. Although we've not found it necessary to hand feed the young Grey Peacocks they do like the attention and if you wish to have tame birds this should be easy to attain.
These are endearing little birds and no animal lover could fail to fall in love with them. They do need a little more care and attention than the average pheasant but I have no doubt they will charm and delight you in return.