Golden Pheasant

Chrysolophus pictus (Linnaeus, 1758) GF GOLPH 3960
Family: Galliformes > Phasianidae

Golden Pheasant, Chris Knights

This gorgeous pheasant, native to China, is an avicultural favourite. British birds have their origins in the deliberate or accidental releases of captive birds.

Past introductions in scattered parts of Britain – from Perthshire to Cornwall and Sussex – have led to populations that apparently sustained themselves for several decades. Almost all of these are now extinct and the status of this species on the British List therefore warrants review. Birds once bred in East Anglian pine plantations, Sussex Yew forests, and in scattered locations where Rhododendron was invading native woodland.

The reasons for the extinction of once-successful Golden Pheasant populations remains a mystery. Where deer have increased, closer grazing of the ground layer might have played a part, though in many former sites the habitat appears unchanged. Increases in the scale of releases of Pheasant and partridges on shooting estates have been considerable and might have mediated declines through competition or disease.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Golden Pheasant

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Golden Pheasant identification is usually straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Golden Pheasant, provided by xeno-canto contributors.



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Populations of this species in several localities across the UK arose from releases from the 18th century onwards (Lever 2009) and by the 20th century some of these were considered self-sustaining. The species is native to China and as a non-native species the UK populations do not have a conservation status. Steep declines occurred in the late 20th century and only a handful of birds may now remain at its last stronghold in Breckland, Norfolk (APEP4). It seems likely that the species will soon be extinct in the wild in the UK.


Golden Pheasants were introduced to Britain in the 1700s. The winter and breeding distribution maps from 2007–11 show a stronghold in Breckland, with another very small population in northwest Norfolk. Elsewhere, there were isolated records of local escapes or recent introductions. The situation has likely deteriorated since then with fewer reports of the species in East Anglia.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The Golden Pheasant's breeding range almost halved between 1988–91 and 2008–11 and this trend has likely continued.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Golden Pheasant, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Ffesant Euraid
Catalan: faisà daurat
Czech: bažant zlatý
Danish: Guldfasan
Dutch: Goudfazant
Estonian: kuldfaasan
Finnish: kultafasaani
French: Faisan doré
German: Goldfasan
Hungarian: aranyfácán
Icelandic: Gullfasani
Italian: Fagiano dorato
Latvian: zelta fazans
Lithuanian: auksinis fazanas
Norwegian: Gullfasan
Polish: bazant zlocisty
Portuguese: faisão-dourado
Slovak: bažant zlatý
Slovenian: zlati fazan
Spanish: Faisán dorado
Swedish: guldfasan


Interpretation and scientific publications about Golden Pheasant from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The causes of the sharp decline of this species are unclear but possible causes in Breckland could include increased predation (including predation from Goshawks), and inbreeding (Lever 2005).

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