Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly decorated with bright colors and adornments such as wattles. Males are usually larger than females and have longer tails. Males play no part in rearing the young. Pheasants typically eat seeds and some insects.
The best-known is the common pheasant, which is widespread throughout the world, in introduced feral populations and in farm operations. Various other pheasant species are popular in aviaries, such as the golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus).
According to the OED, the word “pheasant” ultimately comes from Phasis, the ancient name of what is now called the Rioni River in Georgia. It passed from Greek to Latin to French (spelled with an initial “f”) then to English, appearing for the first time in English around the year 1299.
This list is ordered to show presumed relationships between species.
Euplocamus and Gennceus are older names more or less corresponding to the current Lophura.
These old genera were used for:
|Vernacular||Hume & Marshall||Finn: Sporting Birds||Finn: Game Birds||Contemporary|
|Vieillot's crested fireback||E. vielloti||Lophura rufa (sic)||L. ignita rufa|
|Black-backed kalij||E. melanonotus||G. melanonotus||L. leucomelanos melanota|
|Common or white-crested kalij||E. albocristatus||G. albocristatus||L. leucomelanos hamiltoni|
|Nepal kalij||E. leucomelanus||G. leucomelanus||L. leucomelanos leucomelanos|
|Purple, Horsfield's or black-breasted kalij||E. horsfieldi||G. horsfieldi||L. leucomelanos lathami|
|Lineated kalij||E. lineatus||G. lineatus also: Burmese silver pheasant||L. leucomelanos lineata|
|Anderson's silver pheasant||?||G. andersoni, considered hybrid of L. nycthemera and L. l. lineata||L. nycthemera andersoni (invalid)|
|Crawfurd's silver pheasant (or Crawford's? )||E. andersoni||considered a further cross of Anderson's and L. l. lineata||?|
|Crawfurd's kalij (same as C.'s silver pheasant?)||?||G. andersoni||L. leucomelanos crawfurdi|
|Cuvier's kalij||?||G. cuvieri||?|
|Oates's kalij||?||G. oatesi||L. leucomelanos oatesi|
|Whitehead's silver pheasant||?||G. whiteheadi||?|
|Swinhoe's kalij||?||G. swinhoii||L. swinhoii|