Sexing Pheasant Chicks

I have information and photos below which will hopefully help when you are trying to determine the sex of your successfully hatched chicks. It tends to be quite difficult with pheasants until they are at least a couple of months old and if you are just starting to breed them and unsure what to look for it can be a good while longer. I have included a few species, for now, which I am repeatedly asked about.

Golden Pheasants

By the time Golden Pheasants are three months old it is very easy to tell the cocks and hens apart. Although the cocks will not have most of their colours until well into the following year they are already more colourful than the hens.

The Golden cock will have a reddish rust colour on his back and the base of his tail. His eyes will also be changing colour. They will be starting to look bluish before becoming greener and later will finally end up yellow. The plumage of the golden hen will not change a great deal although it may develop a yellowish tinge. Her eyes will stay dark brown. The legs of the cock will also often be a brighter yellow than that of the hen although this in itself will not be conclusive evidence of a male bird. As the year progresses the differences will become obvious and the cock may grow a little of the mature bird's plumage.

young Golden PheasantsGolden Pheasants at 3 months old.
The bird on the left is a cock and on the right is a hen.
young Golden Pheasant cockGolden Pheasant cock
at 4 months old.
young Golden Pheasant hen Golden Pheasant hen
at 4 months old.

Lady Amherst's Pheasants

The Amherst cock will tend to have slightly stronger markings than the hen, mainly because there is more of a contrast in the colours. His crown feathers will become darker. With the first change they will be a rather dull black but as he matures further a tinge of glossy green may be noticeable. He will begin to grow tail feathers which will have a lot of white on them. Even though an adult Amherst hen may well have a little white on her tail this will not appear while she is still very young. The cock is also going to have more of his blue facial skin, surrounding the eye, showing than the hen. The eye itself will become a pale blue in the cock whereas the hen's will stay brown. Much of the hen's plumage will also remain brown but it will turn a rustier shade than the Golden hen. The Amhert hen's crown will become an especially deep, rich shade of reddish brown as she matures. By the time the cock is a few months old the differences should be easy to see and can't be mistaken by the time he begins to have some of an immature white ruff appearing at the nape of his neck.

True Silver Pheasants

By the time the True Silver cock is three months old he should be showing fine black and white barring on the chest extending right up to the throat. There may be markings on the hen too but only on the belly. The cock will soon outgrow the hen and will also develop larger spurs. The tail feathers will change too with all of the cock's tail turning black and white whereas the upper tail feathers of the hen will be brown.

young True Silver Pheasant cockTrue Silver Pheasant cock
at 4 months old.
young True Silver Pheasant hen True Silver Pheasant
hen
at 4 months old.

Eared Pheasants

Eared Pheasants can be difficult to sex and it will require a little patience. The main difference is the spurs. The cock's spurs will be much more noticeable and even when still small will be stumpier in shape, much rounder, than the hen's narrow spurs. Usually the hen's spurs will stay very small hardly growing at all. They are always much less conspicuous than a cock's prominent spurs. The brown Eared Pheasants spur development is slower than the White Eared however there is usually a difference in the size of the face wattles with the cocks showing more facial skin than the hens.

The other differences are minor ones. The hens tend to have a smaller head and may also be slender in comparison to the male but this will not be an easy way to determine sex as the difference will be slight. The cocks will often be braver and more forward in their behaviour. This may be deceiving however as there could be a more dominant cock among a few of the same sex, or a smaller hen kept in place by another stronger female within the aviary. In general though the cocks are likely to be bolder and have a more upright stance than the hen to show off his dominance.

White Eared Pheasant cockWhite Eared Pheasant cock at around 4 months old.
spur on White Eared Pheasant henSpur on
White Eared Pheasant hen
at 6 months old.
spurs on Brown Eared Pheasant henSpur on
Brown Eared Pheasant hen
at 6 months old.
face of Brown Eared Pheasant henFace of
Brown Eared Pheasant hen
at 4 months old.
face of Brown Eared Pheasant cockFace of
Brown Eared Pheasant cock
at 4 months old.
spurs on Brown Eared Pheasant cockSpurs on
Brown Eared Pheasant cock
at 7 months old.

Himalayan Monal Pheasants

You have to wait a while to see the difference between male and female Monal chicks but by the time they are 4 months old the cocks will have a black throat whereas the hens will stay white. A subtle way to tell the difference a bit earlier is by studying the white streaks on the breast of the birds. The white on the hen is finer than that on the male bird which, although still linear in shape, is quite blotchy. The colouring of the breast feathers may also be very slightly different in that there is often more of a contrast with the cock. The Hen's breast feathers may be cream in colour rather than a stark white but this can vary. If your bird has a finely marked breast it will be a hen and if the markings are fairly broad and undefined the bird will be a cock. Unfortunately birds can have markings which are somewhere between the two so a longer wait may be necessary to be sure of the sex.

Himalayan Monal Pheasant cockHimalayan Monal Pheasant cock
at 5 months old.
Himalayan Monal Pheasant henHimalayan Monal Pheasant hen
at 5 months old.

We do add photos to our facebook page throughout the year of many of our young pheasants not yet in full colour so please take a look to see more than I can include on this one page.

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