A high flyer that will cost a large sum should you pull the trigger, the Reeves's pheasant survives well in the UK but has become vulnerable abroad

The Reeves’s pheasant will occassionally appear at a British shoot, but only as an escapee that will cost you a hefty fine if you shoot it.

Do you know the history of what you are shooting? Read the history of the pheasant to impress at the shoot lunch.


The Reeves’s pheasant has long been popular with breeders and the occasional escapee can appear over the guns at a British shoot. It is a strong flier and can present a shot every bit as challenging as a high-flying common pheasant. Think twice before pulling the trigger, though, as it usually carries a hefty fine.

The cock bird has spectacular black, white and gold plumage. In flight it is easily identified by its extraordinarily long tail, which can measure 6ft or more. The hen is difficult to distinguish from a common hen pheasant.

The Reeves’s pheasant has been kept in captivity since the early 1800s, and survives well when released in the UK. A number live wild around Woburn Park, for instance. The birds are still reared and released for sporting purposes in France, the Czech Republic and North America.

The Reeves’s pheasant is faring less well in the wild. It lives in the forests of central northern China, from 1,000 to 6,000ft. The WPA’s 1989 symposium in Beijing identified that the bird was seriously declining in the wild, where it is threatened by habitat loss and over-hunting – partly due to demand for the long tail feathers, used in traditional Chinese opera.

The WPA has funded research in China into the bird’s numbers and conservation requirements, and some progress has been made. It is now a protected species in China, and some of its key habitat is now designated a nature reserve. Progress has also been made in captive breeding to provide stock for reintroduction to the wild.