Palawan Peacock Pheasant
The Palawan Peacock Pheasant is present (in the wild) only on the Island of Palawan in the Philippines.
The cock Palawan Peacock Pheasant is an extremely beautiful bird with a long metallic green crest. This colour spreads down the head and neck and gradually becomes more blue over the shoulders and wings as well as the top of the breast. The sheen fades to black on the breast and belly and the lower back and tail is very finely marked with tiny white spots on black. He has a lovely tail which he uses to great effect when displaying to the hen. This has large eyes or ocelli similar to that of a Peacock. He has a dark grey to black beak and dark grey legs. His very dark brown eye is surrounded with red skin although he lacks wattles. He also has a white patch or stripe below the eye and above there is often white as well. This can vary from nothing or very little to a thick white band which travels right down the back of the face. The birds with a thick stripe both above and below the eye are called double barred.
All the Peacock Pheasants are small birds with the hen being much smaller than the cock. The male Palawan is approximately 50 - 60 cm (almost 2 feet) in length but much of this is the birds tail. The hen is similar to a pigeon in size although she has a more fragile, daintier appearance. She is mainly dark brown with a pale face and a crest that lies flat on her head. She also has eye shapes on her tail but they are only very faintly metallic or not at all. She is nevertheless still an attractive, pretty little bird.
The Palawan Peacock Pheasants can be a bit trickier than most pheasants to rear as they are not hardy and being much more insectivorous than other species do require extra protein in their diet. In the summer months this is not a problem but the pheasant pellets available for use in the winter has a much lower protein content than the breeder or grower pellets used during the spring and summer so it should be supplemented with other foods which are high in protein, especially as there is also a lack of insects in the aviary during winter. As well as their pellets we feed our Palawan Pheasants live food which is mostly mealworms, scrambled egg and broken (or very small) cat biscuits. The peanuts which we give to all our birds as a treat are also high in protein but should not be given in large quantities as they have a very high oil content and the birds will get fat. The Palawan Peacock Pheasants have heated sheds as they do need to be kept fairly warm and may even have to be shut in for some of the colder winter days. Once the days warm up and the night temperature does not get lower than about 6 degrees centigrade the heaters can be turned off. They can do well in a fairly small aviary but we would not have them in anything less than 12' x 12' (roughly 14 square meters).
Palawan Peacock Pheasants will breed successfully in their second year and although the hen will only lay one or two eggs in a clutch she will, under favourable conditions, start laying as early as March and continue until August. There will normally be a few weeks between each clutch. In the hen's first breeding year or if the weather is particularly bad she is more likely to lay only 2 or 3 clutches. The eggs will hatch within 18 - 20 days. A close eye should be kept on the chicks to make sure they are eating. It usually helps if Golden chicks can be kept with them as they are good eaters and will encourage the Palawans. We always use a soft mash (a little cooled, boiled water is added to the chick crumb) for the first week or so. This does go bad very quickly in the brooder so should be changed at least twice a day. If the chicks are not eating by the time they are three days old they will deteriorate rapidly. If necessary they can be fed by hand and can also be offered small white mealworms. The white mealworms are easier to digest as they have only just shed their old skin and the new skin has not yet hardened. Due to the size of the chick the mealworms do also have to be very small. These should not be fed exclusively but may well get them starting to eat if there are any problems. I have heard of Palawan chicks being difficult to feed but as yet we have not encountered this although we have had the odd occasion of other chicks not eating straight away and needing a little extra help. The biggest problem we have found in rearing the Palawans is due to the tiny size of the birds. We are continually having to put them in brooder boxes/pens with birds close to their own size to stop the Palawans from being pecked unfortunately the Palawans then often have a go at the much younger birds they have to be placed with. For this reason the birds should be kept occupied with plenty of things to peck at, other than each other, and perches to jump on and off to keep them busy.
If you don't mind spending a bit extra time and effort with these birds they are a treasure to keep. They are a particularly gorgeous bird with a beautiful nature and a lovely display.