Palawan Peacock Pheasant

Polyplectron emphanum

The Palawan Peacock Pheasant is present (in the wild) only on the Island of Palawan in the Philippines.

The cock Palawan Peacock Pheasant is an extremely beautiful bird with a long metallic green crest. This colour spreads down the head and neck and gradually becomes more blue over the shoulders and wings as well as the top of the breast. The sheen fades to black on the breast and belly and the lower back and tail is very finely marked with tiny white spots on black. He has a lovely tail which he uses to great effect when displaying to the hen. This has large eyes or ocelli similar to that of a Peacock. He has a dark grey to black beak and dark grey legs. His very dark brown eye is surrounded with red skin although he lacks wattles. He also has a white patch or stripe below the eye and above there is often white as well. This can vary from nothing or very little to a thick white band which travels right down the back of the face. The birds with a thick stripe both above and below the eye are called double barred. All the Peacock Pheasants are small birds with the hen being much smaller than the cock. The male Palawan is approximately 50 - 60 cm (almost 2 feet) in length but much of this is the birds tail. The hen is quite similar to a pigeon in size although she has a more fragile, daintier appearance. She is mainly dark brown with a pale face and a crest that lies flat on her head. She also has eye shapes on her tail but they are only very faintly metallic or not at all. She is nevertheless still an attractive, pretty little bird.

The Palawan Peacock Pheasants can be a bit trickier than most pheasants to rear as they are not hardy. The Palawans have heated sheds as they do need to be kept fairly warm and may even have to be shut in for some of the colder winter days. Once the days warm up and the night temperature does not get lower than about 6 degrees centigrade the heaters can be turned off. They are also more insectivorous than other species and as such require extra protein in their diet. In the summer months this is not a problem but the pheasant pellets available for use in the winter have a much lower protein content than the breeder or grower pellets used during the spring and summer so supplementing their diet with a small boost of extra protein rich foods may be beneficial. Live food, nuts and small beans, cooked egg yolk and even crushed cat biscuits can do this. There's no need for much but bear in mind these birds are tropical and (I am assuming) will be more likely than UK wildlife to have a year long supply of insects available to them in the wild. Palawans can do well in a fairly small aviary but we would not have them in anything less than, our smallest pens of, 12' x 12' (roughly 14 square meters).

Palawan Peacock Pheasants will breed successfully in their second year and although the hen will only lay one or two eggs in a clutch she will, under favourable conditions, start laying as early as March and continue until August. There will normally be a few weeks between each clutch. In the hen's first breeding year or if the weather is particularly bad she is more likely to lay only 2 or 3 clutches.

If eggs are fertile the chicks will hatch after an incubation of about 19 days. A close eye should be kept on them to make sure they are eating. We've had great success by starting them off with cooked egg yolk (which all our chicks are given for a few days or until they are eating well). The egg yolk seems to attract the chicks immediately and, being soft, it tends to stick a little to the chick's beaks. The Peacock Pheasant chicks are instinctively drawn to peck at this as if it is being offered by a parent. They quickly learn that the same food is available in their dish and some other things such as the chick crumb is pretty good to eat too. We've read and heard about breeders not being able to get Peacock Pheasant chicks to eat without difficulty but raised alongside others we've never had any problems in this respect.

If you don't mind spending a bit extra time and effort with these birds they are a treasure to keep. They are a particularly gorgeous bird with a beautiful nature and a dashing display.

Palawan Peacock Pheasant cock Palawan Peacock Pheasant hen
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