Lewis Silver Pheasant

Lophura nycthemera lewisi

The Lewis Silver Pheasant is one of 14 subspecies of Silver pheasant the most common of which is the True Silver (Lophura nycthemera nycthemera). The Lewis is smaller and darker than the True which has a mostly white upper body (the male only). The Lewis cock is more black with fine white markings on every feather. He has red legs and wattles and a lovely black bushy crest. The hen also has a crest which is more obvious than that of the True Siver hen's as it protrudes almost horizontally from the crown unlike the True Silver's which is close against the back of her head. The Lewis hen is mainly brown and has no intricate or vermiculated markings however she does look like she's been dustbathing in talc. Her face and throat are very pale and her body (especially towards the front) has a dusty or even faded appearance. Most of her feathers have white shafts.

In the wild they are from Cambodia and Thailand and live in grassy areas of scrub. They are super birds in the aviary. Like other pheasants, the cocks like to put on a good display during the breeding season. They are hardy and caring for them is straightforward. They have a liking for peanuts and grain as well as some fruit, especially berries, but they're not usually quite as keen on live food as the True Silvers.

Hens can lay up to around 20 eggs in a season (often about 6 or 7 eggs in a clutch) which are incubated for 25 - 26 days. They start laying at the end of March or beginning of April and will continue until around the end of May or early June. The biggest problem is the availability of unrelated stock in the UK as there are very few breeders. In fact I would really like to hear from other breeders so that we can increase our numbers in the future. The chicks are fairly easy to rear but they can be bullied by some other species when young and are not quite as quick to grow as the True Silvers. They are also a bit flightier than some pheasant chicks so will benefit from a bit extra time spent with them.

These are super birds which make very little noise and are not quite as hard on the plants in their aviary as some of our other birds. They are scarce in the UK but I see no reason why they should not be kept by a novice pheasant keeper. I would advise keeping birds pure by not breeding with other subspecies of Silver or indeed any other pheasant species. As they are already extremely difficult to source it would be shameful to knowingly muddy the genepool with hybrids. They have proven themselves, to us, to be excellent aviary birds and they do us proud by continually thriving at Allandoo.

pair Lewis Silver Pheasants Lewis Silver Pheasant cock Lewis Silver Pheasant cock
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