Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Day 177 - Mutant Bird!

Hi all today's Day 177 and I have been up near the North York Moors in a forest where we see incredible amounts of wildlife. Just on the road up to it we saw rabbits, birds, horses (not wild, but they were tiny!) and the bird that I am covering today. This bird was one that we had never seen before (in this form at least). It was an interesting bird to see so I got my camera out straight away and started taking photos.

Blue Pheasant (Phasianus Tenebrosus)
Obviously you can tell that it's a Pheasant but Pheasants aren't blue are they? Well they are if they are mutants! They aren't technically mutants they are just oddly coloured 'Melanistic Morphs'. David Renwick told me this. Thanks for that Dave! They are very interesting birds to see so, even though I have already covered Common/Ring-Necked Pheasants in a previous post, I thought I'd do a post about them today.

So, here are the facts:

  • A black/dark blue version of a bird that is not the same colour as the rest of its species actually has Melanism. This is basically the opposite of Albinism. It causes the dark coloured pigment Melanin. The same sort of thing that gives you freckles.
  • This doesn't just happen in Pheasants, it happens in all animals. A good example of this is the Black Panther which is a classic case. They have an entire species named after them!
  • There has been an extremely rare black Flamingo spotted on Cyprus just recently in April. If anybody is reading this in Cyprus that knows where it was seen, please get me a photo!
  • Some people refer to these as both Black Pheasants and Blue Pheasants but they are actually the same thing. They are often mistaken for the Green or Japanese Pheasant which looks like a mixture between the Black/Blue and the Common Pheasant.
  • People refer to them as black, as they appear black from a distance but they are actually a dark blue-purple with an iridescent plumage (shiny feathers. Ooh shiny :-)
  • Sadly, Black/ Blue Pheasants are often introduced into Pheasant shooting ranges to give a little bit of variety :-(.
  • Golden Pheasants (Chinese) are another species of Pheasant like the Common Pheasant that we see daily. Here is a link to a website so you can see this incredible bird.
Here are some facts in general about Pheasants:
  • They are the same size as Common Pheasants being 71cm long and having a wingspan of 80cm. Males weigh 1.40 kilograms and Females 980g.
  • Pheasants can cope with bad weather by remaining dormant for days on end. This basically means they can sleep/hibernate but slow down their bodily functions so they hardly need to eat.
  • Speaking of eating (mmm :-) they like to nom on (nom nom nom :-) seeds, grains and shoots (nom nom nom??).
  • Pheasants have strong breast muscles that give powerful bursts to enable the bird to escape harm in a hurry.
  • They can take off almost vertically and can reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour! You often see them by the sides of roads so this, hopefully, helps them to get out of the way of cars.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Golden Pheasants are one of my favourite bird species, they have beautiful plumage. These photos are amazing Zach - I've never seen a Pheasant like this and I had no idea that so many animals had melanism! Really interesting post. - Tasha

    1. Thanks - It was a great find Tasha, couldn't work it out till I did my research, lovely to see :-)