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Letter to the Editor

It appears there is a small population of golden pheasants living wild in the Waitakeres. For pictures, see wikipedia and this YouTube video. If you have encountered golden pheasants, I’d love to hear about your sightings.

These exotics come originally from mountain forests in west China. They’re smaller than the common ring-necked pheasant, which prefers more open country. Some people here breed golden pheasants, but we don’t know of anyone doing so in west Auckland (

We live near Parkinson’s lookout. In late March 2022, we met a young female in bush on our property. She was quite tame. She ate tradescantia, dandelion leaves, and other flowers and vegetation, but she also took a shine to the grain we put out for wild birds. She became a fixture at our place and the neighbours’.

At the beginning of October, the first bird was joined by another female. This second bird was shyer (at least initially) and displayed a strange, skittish behaviour: she would often make short, nervy, fast runs back and forth for no apparent reason.

In December, the splendid tails of both birds were badly broken, possibly as a result of mating behaviours. Though we did not hear or see a male, both females had some chicks at this time, small enough that they had to have hatched locally. The two chicks that survived were raised jointly by the females. They both turned out to be males, one of which also had the same eccentric behaviour as the second female. By April 2023, the juvenile males were fully grown, bigger than their mothers, and bright red in colour, with long tails. They didn’t yet have the gold bonnet and yellow eye; these develop when they are more than one year old. In late April, all four pheasant disappeared. In June 2023, the second female and the eccentric juvenile male returned to our garden for three days, but they then moved on again.

We’ve heard indirectly of a fully adult male golden pheasant that is resident on Bush Road, which is about three or four kilometres by road from here. But we’re guessing that there are more, perhaps closer to hand. Have you seen any of these lovely birds? Please let me know.

Stephen Davies

(Image of golden pheasant taken from internet)


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