PHEASANT

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PHEASANT (phasianus). The genus phasianus includes not only the pheasants proper, but also the common domestic fowl. (See Cock.) The true pheasant is distinguished by having a long tail, the feathers of which are of different lengths, and overlay each other like tiles. The most common species is the P. colchicus, originally a native of the East, but now naturalized in many parts of Europe, especially in the southern parts. In their wild state, these birds feed, like the rest of the gallinaceous tribe, upon vegetable food: when young, however, they principally subsist on insects, and are exceedingly fond of ants' eggs. The female constructs her nest in some retired spot, forming it of leaves, and without grass. The number of eggs she lays is various; for, if they are carried away, she continues, like the common hen, to lay an additional quantity. The males and females only associate together in the first spring months. When disturbed, they make a whirring noise, like the partridge, and, from being a large n<ark, and flying slowly, they are readily brought down, even by an inexperienced sportsman. There are several varieties, produced by climate and domestication, among which is the white. The golden pheasant (P. pidus), a native of China, is remarkable for the beauty of its plumage: the prevailing colors are red, yellow and blue, and it is distinguished by a crest upon the head, which can be raised at pleasure The iris, bill and legs are yel low. The tail is long, and richly tinted, and from above it arise a number of long, straight feathers, of a scarlet hue, mixed with yellow. Cuvier is of opinion that the description given by Pliny of the phoenix (lib. x, cap. 2) is meant for this bird. Another fine species found in China is the silver pheasant (P. nydhemerus). This is of a silvery white color, with veiy delicate black lines on each feather, and black belly. The most splendid bird of this genus, and perhaps of the feathered race, is the argus pheasant (P. argus). This species, which is of a large size, is an inhabitant of the mountains in the island of Sumatra, and perhaps of others of the Indian islands. The male has a very long tail, and the feathers of the wings are large, and much produced, the whole thickly covered with ocellate spots, giving to the bird a most extraordinary aspect. There are several other species of this genus, which inhabit different parts of Asia: none, however, have yet been discovered in America. The bird known under the name of pheasant in Pennsylvania, &c, is a tetrao or grouse, (q. v.) Judging, however, from the success which has attended the naturalization of the peacock, Guinea fowl, and other birds of warm climates, it is probable that many, if not all the species of pheasant, might be raised in the U. States, especially in the Southern States. At the same time, it should be stated that the attempts hitherto made to introduce the common pheasant into Pennsylvania have failed, not, however, from the severity of the winter, but from various accidental causes.