Many, many years ago someone I know worked on a shooting estate and there was a pheasant there that survived several seasons. It's hate for humans grew to such an extent that not only would it attack any human that came near it, but it actually sought out humans to attack, even running over fields when a car came up the drive so it could attack any driver or passenger. In the end, visitors were encouraged to bring umbrellas, walking sticks, or anything that would protect them, but it never failed to strike terror in people's hearts.
Chrysolophus pictus, also appropriately known as the rainbow pheasant (Happy Pride month!) - the ones I’m feeding are yellow mutations, here is what the “wild” type males look like (the females are the brown ones with dark barring):
(Photo from eBird)
Like nearly all pheasant species, goldens are omnivorous, feeding on seeds and vegetation, as well as insects and other invertebrates in the wild. Pet golden pheasants do well on game bird feed, supplemented with plenty of bird-safe fruits and vegetables, in addition to protein boosts like mealworms and boiled eggs. As with any backyard poultry, feed needs to be stored in pest-proof containers, and any uneaten food should be removed and properly disposed of every day (or even more frequently, e.g. fruit given on a hot summer day will get mushy and stinky from being stepped on and attract All The Flies). Depending on the environment, grit may not need to be supplemented, but better safe than sorry if you notice undigested food material in their feces. And finally, as always, fresh water is a must!
In my experience, golden pheasants are flightier and much more delicate than standard chickens, so they should be kept within a spacious but secure aviary-style enclosure with no (or VERY closely monitored) opportunity to free-range in order to avoid predation incidents. Outdoor enclosures with access to grass and other plants that are safe to forage on, as well as wild insects and worms, are ideal. Golden pheasants can physiologically adapt to living outside in different temperatures/climates, and some can actually do well even in Canadian winters! That said, a sheltered area with a roof and appropriate insulation is a must in colder weather. Hens require nest boxes as well. They are excellent fliers and the males love to sprint around when performing their courtship displays, so a minimum enclosure space of around 10 x 10 feet with lots of perches of varying materials and heights is best for a male with 1 or 2 hens.
(Photo from ThylacineAlive on zoochat.com)
As ground-dwelling birds, pheasants will spend much of their waking hours foraging on the forest floor in the wild, so be sure to regularly provide plenty of novel and fun foraging opportunities! Hide treats inside toys they can peck at! Scatter feed into “unusual” substrates (shredded paper, straw, peat moss) for them to scratch and kick around in! Boredom can lead to problems with aggression between birds, such as abnormal feather-pecking behaviour. If there are no patches of dry, bare dirt in the enclosure, you will also need to add in a small square of peat moss or sand to dust-bathe in. And last but not least, here is my shameless plug for positive-reinforcement training! Even if you have “skittish” pheasants that were not raised by humans since hatching, with time and patience they can eventually be trained to step onto your arm and fly to you on cue. Rumour has it that sunflower seeds are a hot-ticket reinforcer (but should only be reserved for training sessions due to their high fat content)!
Healthy pheasants are very active and constantly run or walk around in search of food, occasionally flying up to a perch for a brief nap or preening session. Both sexes, but the males in particular with their long tail feathers, will molt heavily during late summer - otherwise, plumage should look smooth and bright. Eyes, nares, and cloaca should be free of discharge, and birds kept outside are usually able to keep their beak and nails straight and worn down to a proper length on their own. Pheasants need and deserve proper veterinary care just as much as any parrot or other pet bird, so please make every effort to take them to a licensed avian veterinarian if you notice any of the following signs: lumps and bumps or abnormal swelling anywhere on the head or body, plucked or consistently dirty feathers or unnaturally “ruffled” looking appearance, lethargy, difficulty breathing, abnormal feces/urate, lameness, discharge, and loss of appetite, among others. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find avian or poultry veterinarians who will be able to vaccinate (against Marek’s disease, coccidiosis, etc.) and/or give preventive medications (e.g. de-wormers) specifically for backyard poultry.
This care sheet was requested by @attackash! As always, I’ve likely missed a hundred other important points, so feel free to reblog with suggestions or give me a shout in my ask (which is also open for other requests and questions)!