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Silver Pheasant

Name for a pheasant with the scientific name Lophura nycthemera and which occurs in mainland Southeast Asia, including China, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It inhabits mountain, bamboo, evergreen and deciduous forests, as well as grasslands. It feeds on fruits, seeds, young plant shoots, insects, worms and small reptiles. It is polygamous, living in social groups that typically consist of a male and two to five females. This bird is often bred in captivity and well-known in ancient Chinese poetry and art. The males are very territorial, especially during the breeding season, when they can be aggressive towards their keepers. Males of the nominate race have silvery-white upperparts and blackish-blue underparts, whereas the upperparts of the subspecies Lophura nycthemera lineata is darker, with denser markings, has pinkish-brown or dark grey legs, while its tail is shorter. The Annamese Silver Pheasant, a subspecies with the scientific designation Lophura nycthemera annamensis and found in Annam (Vietnam), is similar to Lophura nycthemera lineata, namely darker above with denser markings, yet bolder and with a conspicuous band of white feathers that runs on either side from the throat to the shoulders, whereas its legs are red (fig.). Females of the nominate race (fig.) are overall rather dark brown, with black and white scaled underparts, whereas those of the subspecies Lophura nycthemera lineata (fig.) have light scaling above and a mostly dull chestnut breast and belly. Females will lay six to fifteen eggs. In Thai it is called kai fah lang khaw and kai fah lang ngun, literally ‘white-backed fowl’ and ‘silver-backed fowl’ respectively, and in China it is often referred to as ‘white phoenix’. See also kai fah.