Ever wondered how rare white pheasants are? The Field is on hand to help
Out walking recently I came across three white pheasants, one loitering in a field by the church with a traditional cock pheasant and then, further on, two more scratching around in another field. I have never seen white ones before – are they rare?
The GWCT says white pheasants are a colour mutation of the common ring-necked pheasant, also often referred to as leucistic, which is caused by a lack of melanin. They are reared at game farms by breeding white pheasants with one another, although the colour mutation can pop up occasionally from breeding normal-coloured ring-necked pheasants as well. They are often released on game shoots as marker birds and are also used as a way to raise money for charity, carrying a fine if a guest shoots one. Pure albino pheasants are rarely seen. One difference is the red eye, which is seen with albino variants and often hinders the bird’s vision, and ultimately survival. The birds seen are likely to be released white leucistics and are a common sight on game farms and released-game shoots.