Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 18th, 2009
There are 35 species of pheasant in 11 different genera. The best-known is the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) which is widespread throughout the world in introduced feral populations and in farm operations.
General opinion says that none of these birds are suppose to be blue. Some people say they don’t even exist and are called “melanistic pheasants,” indeed, the black panther of the bird world.
People who have seen blue pheasants are often told they are dead wrong or have merely misidentified peacocks, usually Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus.
Despite eyewitness encounters by nature observers and random historic accounts by hunters, skepticism remains high in the birdwatching community with many dismissing reports of blue pheasant sightings.
Now from England, along with a dramatic photograph, comes new blue fire for the debate.
When a Lincolnshire amateur ornithologist saw a flash of blue in his garden he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Mike Lake, from Saxilby, managed to take a picture of the bright blue male pheasant as it strutted about in his back garden.
“It’s clearly living wild but it’s been visiting for a couple of weeks so it’s obviously surviving,” he said.
“I think it’s roosting somewhere nearby.
“It’s certainly strikingly beautiful. It brings a bit of vibrancy and colour to the environment.”
For many in the birdwatching community there is still debate as to the cause or existence of wild blue pheasants with many dismissing reports of sightings as merely juvenile peacocks.
Even members of the local RSPB seemed unsure about the creatures.
Lincolnshire RSPB spokesman Steve Lovell said: “It’s the first time I’ve come across them.
“But you never know what has been bred and released from game estates each year.”
In recent years, sightings of iridescently feathered pheasants have been on the rise across the county, possibly due to selective breeding by gamekeepers.
A spokesman for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Morag Walker, said the birds were common.
“It’s not really blue,” she said.
“All pheasants have these iridescent feathers and this is just a mutation of an ordinary cock pheasant.”
And it seems the birds unusual colour might help it in the long run with restaurateurs rejecting the idea of eating them.
Alan Ritson, owner of the Old Bakery restaurant in Lincoln which serves pheasant, said he didn’t think the birds would taste any different once cooked.
“But it would be terrible to do that to them,” he added.Lincolnshire Echo, March 17, 2009
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