Imagine a gamebird, silvery-gray overall, with frosty glaucous brows, a small decurved bill perfect for munching moss and crunching seeds, and then all awash in bewildering red. The lanceolate feathers of the flanks and breast are splattered with a crimson that would startle even Freddie Kruger. And the face is so red some would suggest it looks less like a partridge but more akin to Nosferatu. Instead, behold this month’s image, the Blood Pheasant; a bird with a most evocative name, yet one presenting little danger or alarm, aside from that its beauty may cause palpitations.
Ranging across the Himalayas from India east, through Bhutan, Nepal and China, this species is a primary want, if not a “need”, for those amongst us who pursue the grandest of gamebirds, the pheasants. Many in the U.S and Canada are familiar with the handsome Ring-necked Pheasant. We even hear old-timers bemoan the bird’s decline across much of its former range there. But, of course, the Ring-necked Pheasant was never native to North America, and was only introduced there for sport. Older farming practices likely favored it more so than those today, and now without repeated reintroductions it does not seem to persist. It is a Eurasian species, and indeed Asia is where the family reaches its most diverse and spectacular.
Consider that in Sichuan China, stunners such as White Eared, Blue Eared, Golden, Koklass, and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants, along with our featured bird above, are all possible. On one recent tour there, in addition to the utterly unique Pzrevalski’s Finch (Pinktail), we tallied a staggering 17 species of gamebirds (pheasants & grouse), including Blood Pheasant and also the equally gaudy Temminck’s Tragopan. Bhutan is another pheasant hotspot, and our trips there often tally this month’s feature, and even Himalayan Monal and the surreal Satyr Tragopan, in addition to iconic birds like Ibisbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Himalayan Cutia, and a host of parrotbills as well.
In pursuing pheasants, or any group of birds, so many glories unfold. Consider an adventure to Asia, and not only will the gamebirds delight, but you’ll enjoy fabulous scenery and rich cultural experiences to boot. Join a Rockjumper Birding adventure today and you will discover more.
Search for Blood Pheasant and much besides on these Asian adventures:
BHUTAN – BIRDING THE BUDDHIST KINGDOM
16 Mar – 04 Apr 2019 (20 days)
Was: USD7,950 Now: USD7,550 * GBP5,751 * EUR6,565
CHINA – SICHUAN BIRDING
20 May – 07 Jun 2019 (19 days)
Price: USD5,975 * GBP4,551 * EUR5,196
CHINA – HIGHLIGHTS
01 – 15 May 2019 (15 days)
Price: USD5,250 * GBP3,999 * EUR4,566