Description and distribution of subspecies of the common pheasant

The number of subspecies of Phasianus colchicus is about 31 subspecies, and these are often divided into either 5 groups. There are 13 described subspecies within  the common pheasant on the former USSR territory.

1. Southern Caucasus Pheasant Phasianus colchicus colchicus (Кавказский фазан) 

Description: Nominative subspecies– characteristics of plumage color are given in the description of the species.
Distribution: Transcaucasia in East Georgia, Northeast Azerbaijan, South Armenia and  Northwest Iran.

2. Northern Caucasian Pheasant Phasianus colchicus septentrionalis Lorenz, 1888 (Северокавказский фазан)
Description: At a large proximity to the Caucasian pheasant, this subspecies is pretty good differs by: plumage color is lighter, contents more golden-orange colors, and on the black markings of the back and sides of the crop the green sheen prevails. The female is slightly paler than females of nominal subspecies.
Distribution: North Caucasus from Dagestan, North of the Volga Delta (Russia).

3.  Talisch Caucasian Pheasant Phasianus colchicus talischensis Lorenz, 1888  (Талышский фазан).

Description: Talysh pheasant male differs from the nominate subspecies by narrower dark selvedges of goiter feathers, which in its upper part tapered and have a deep recess at the end of the rod. Goiter and sides of body without copper-red or purple tone. Females painting slightly darker than the painting of nominate subspecies.
Distribution: Southeast Transcaucasia and Caspian lowlands of Iran.


4.     Persian Pheasant Phasianus colchicus persicus Severtzov, 1875 (Персидский фазан)
Description: It occupies an intermediate position between Talish and Murghab subspecies. From the Talish subspecies it well differs by upper wing coverts, which color of Persian pheasant is whitish-gray with a clearly pronounced dun tone; at the interscapulum part, goiter, breast and sides feathers prevails golden sheen; metallic green color and shine on the open part of the feathers of the upper tail front part are practically absent.
Distribution: Southwest Transcaspia in Southwest Turkmenistan and Northeast Iran.


5.     Prince of Wales's Pheasant Phasianus colchicus principalis P. L. Sclater, 1885 (Мургабский фазан).
Description: Murgab pheasant subspecies male differs from the Persian subspecies by almost pure white upper wing coverts. The front part of the back with a predominance of golden color, with well-developed scaly pattern generated by dark (width up to 1.5 mm) feathers selvedges. The shoulder feathers without motley pattern, specific for  Caucasian subspecies. White neck-ring is absent, but some neck feathers in this place have white spots, covered by the overlap feathers. Feathers of the breast middle zone have wide (up to 3 mm) purplish-red selvedges, and relatively lower differ from the other feathers color. Breast side’s feathers are with the metallic purple or black with a greenish sheen selvedges.
Distribution: South Turkmenistan, extreme Northeast Iran and North Afghanistan.


6.     Zarundy's Pheasant Phasianus colchicus zarudnyi Buturlin, 1904 – (Амударьинский фазан)
Description: There are very variably subspecies. The color of the back is usually brighter and lighter than at Murgab pheasant, but individual birds it is indistinguishable, and sometimes even darker. Black selvedges of back feathears sometimes completely absent, sometimes developed very much, but is not joins with an extremity dark spot; on a shoulder feathers black selvedges in the most cases are absent. White neck-ring is better developed than the Murghab pheasant neck-ring; it is clearly visible from the outside in the form of two sickle-shaped strips on the sides of the neck, sometimes detected only at sorting the feathers, and in rare cases is reduced, as in the Murghab subspecies. Crimson color of nape of many birds is developed very insignificantly, and in some cases it disappears. Crimson-red feather selvedges of goiter and breast on average are longer than those of other subspecies of the Turkmen subspecies - about 2 mm in width, sometimes 1.5 mm times, sometimes up to 4 mm. They significantly differ by color from the color of the feathers of adjacent part, which is light straw-golden in summer individuals and yellow or reddish-golden in winter individuals; these selvedges lighter than at Murghab subspecies. These features are combined in various combinations. Some individuals have wide crimson selvedges of the bottom, but narrow, almost invisible dark edges of feathers of the back. Crimson color of nape found in birds as with a well-developed, and with an almost invisible scaly.
Distribution: valleys of Central Amu Darya on East Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan border.


7.     Bianchi's Pheasant Phasianus colchicus bianchii Buturlin, 1904 (Таджикский фазан).
Description: Males are distinguished by lots of  black color on the breast (with a greenish metallic sheen), created by a wide feathers selvedges, almost completely covering the dark-golden middle part of the feathers. Red color is prevalent on the body sides.
Distribution: Upper River Amu Darya in South Uzbekistan, Southwest Tajikistan and extreme North Afghanistan.


8.     Khivan Pheasant Phasianus colchicus chrysomelas Severtzov, 1875 (Хивинский фазан)
Description: The adult male is very similar to the Tajik subspecies, but clearly differs from it by black or black-green color of the body bottom side, where it is poorly developed, resulting in a copper-red color on the breast predominates over the black, while the Tajik subspecies this color only discerned among the black and has, moreover, not copper-red, but rather a dark golden hue. The upper side of the body in Khiva pheasant is much darker than the Tajik, not yellowish-orange, but bronze-red. In addition, Khiva pheasant green color on the back side of the back is very poorly developed, is practically absent.
Distribution: Amu Darya Delta in West Uzbekistan, and adjacent North Turkmenistan.

 
9.     Zerafshan Pheasant Phasianus colchicus zerafschanicus Tarnovski, 1893 (Зеравшанский фазан).
Description: Painting of males back is extremely changeable. Black selvedges on the back feathers are absent or developed insignificantly. There is well-defined, but not too wide white neck-ring (maximum width of 5 mm). The throat is usually purple-red, on the breast purple hue predominates, the waist is brown-red. In general, it similar to the Amu-Darya subspecies in color.
Distribution: South Uzbekistan (Bukhara, Zerafshan Valley and Kaska Daya, near Samarkand).
 


10.  Syr Daria PheasantPhasianus colchicus turcestanicus Lorenz, 1896 (Сырдарьинский фазан).
Description: Adult birds are very similar to Semirech'e subspecies. From a more south subspecies it well distinguished by predominance of copper-red tones in front of the back and a well-developed white neck-ring, which in the front part can be interrupted at small length.
Distribution: along valley of River Syr Darya, in Kazakhstan, Southeast to Fergana Basin, in Uzbekistan and borders of Kyrgyzstan


11.  Kirghiz PheasantPhasianus colchicus mongolicus Brandt, 1844  (Семиреченский фазан).
Description: The adult male differs from the males of other subspecies by predominance of copper-red color in front of the back. Wide pale neck-ring (about 10 mm) often solid, but is ripped from the front. At the back, shoulders, breast and front of the abdomen the green metallic sheen is widespread. Breast feathers are without apex selvedges.
Distribution:  North Tien Shan in North Kyrgyzstan North through East Kazakhstan to Lake Balkhash, and East to Northwest Xinjiang and Urumchi (West China).


12.   Manchurian Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus pallasi Rоthsсh. (Манчьжурский фазан).
Description: The main differences in the male color - matt-gray, bluish or greenish colors of the waist and the upper coverts feathers of tail, without any admixture of copper-red, yellow or red tones. Small and medium-sized wing coverts feathers also bluish-gray or light olive tone. White neck-ring is well developed.
Distribution: Southeast Siberia (Ussuriland, South Amurland), adjacent Northeast Korea and Northeast China (North & East Heilongjiang). Northern and Central Manchuria, and Ussuriland from the Amur River south to the shore of the Japan Sea.


13.  Georgian pheasant Phasianus colchicus lorensi Buturlin, 1904 (Грузинский фазан). = Southern Caucasus Pheasant Phasianus colchicus colchicus (Кавказский фазан)
Description: Chocolate-frosted or reddish-brown abdomen center, bordered in front shiny surrounding the breast and sides feathers, is typical for males.
Distribution: Transcaucasia in East Georgia.