PHEASANT (Phasianus Colchicus). Now so general in this country, is a native of the East, and was brought into Europe from the banks of the Phasis, a river of Colchis, in Asia Minor, whence it derives its name. Next to the peacock, it is small black specks; the iris, yellow; on the fore part of the head, there are blackish feathers mixed with purple ; the top of the head and upper part of the neck tinged with a darkish green, varying, according to the light in which viewed, to a shining purple. The feathers of the breast, the shoulders, the middle of the back, and the sides under the wings, present a blackish ground edged with glossy pnrple, under which a transverse streak of gold colour is seen: the two middle feathers of the tail, about twenty inches long ; the shortest on each side, less than five, of a reddish brown colour, marked with transverse bars of black ; the legs, the feet, and the toes, of horn colour; each leg is furnished with a short blunt spur, which, as the bird advances in age, sometimes becomes as sharp as a needle. The female is smaller than the male, and the prevailing colours, brown mixed with black; the breast and belly freckled with minute black spots on a light ground; the tail short, and barred in some degree like that of the male ; the space round the eye, covered with feathers.
There are many varieties of the pheasant, several of which are found in this country. It has been said that they may vie with the peacock in beauty, and if the comparison were meant with the golden pheasant, certainly, we never saw a bird which equalled that portion of the species in beauty; and these birds, which historians inform us, came originally from the East, are equally as hardy as the common pheasant, so prolific in this country, and so thickly scattered over it. In some parts of the kingdom, the golden pheasant is to be seen at large, and may, probably, in the course of years, become as general and as numerous as the commoner sort. The ring-necked is also occasionally met with, as are the white and pied kinds, but the Bohemian, the largeest, the boldest, and, no doubt, the most hardy of the tribe, never, except in the aviary, where, like others of the species, it will propagate. The male of the Bohemian pheasant will, we have every reason to believe, couple with the domestic hen; though we are sceptical as to the conjunction of the latter with the common pheasant.
Pheasants are much attached to the shelter of thickets and woods on the borders of plains; they are frequently to be seen in clover fields and amongst corn, where they very often breed: the hen lays from twelve to fifteen eggs, smaller than those of the domestic hen; the young, like the brood of the partridge, follow the mother as soon as hatched,
Pheasants do not associate except during the months of March and April, when the male seeks the female; they are then easily discoverable by their crowing, and the flapping of their wings, which may be heard at a considerable distance. During the night they perch on the branches of trees. The general weight of the cock pheasant is from two pounds and three quarters to three pounds and a quarter; that of the hen is usually about ten ounces less. This bird, though so beautiful to the eye, is not leas de-! licate when served up to the table : its flesh is considered as the greatest dainty.
In November, 1827, a pheasant was shot on the estate of John Fleming, Esq. M. P. for Hants, weighing three pounds nine ounces and a quarter, and measured, from one extremity to the other, three feet ten inches.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835
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