Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera)


French: Faisan argenté German: Silberfasan Spanish: Faisán plateado

Phasianus nycthemerus


, 1758,



Closely related to L. leucomelanos; the two were formerly placed together in genus Gennaeus, but genetic study found no evidence that Lophura as currently constituted is polyphyletic#R. Present species apparently hybridizes with L. leucomelanos at several localities E of R Irrawaddy (as well as on Victoria I, in SW Argentina, where both introduced very locally#R) and it is possible that interbreeding with L. diardi is occurring in C Thailand#R. A separate molecular study indicated that these are two distinct species and that taxa lineata and crawfurdii, which have been considered part of present species#R, are better placed with L. leucomelanos; in same study two clades were identified within present species (nycthemera, berliozi and some samples of an unknown subspecies; and lewisi, annamensis and jonesi)#R. Geographical variation within present species exhibits two basic clines: individuals S of Irrawaddy delta have an increasingly disrupted pattern of alternating black and white V-marks becoming less distinct farther S, and individuals NE of delta become increasingly white to the N (though some traces of black always remain)#R. Many races considered to be of questionable validity, based on plumage patterns of male upperparts; seven races (rufipes, occidentalis, ripponi, jonesi, beaulieui, nycthemera and fokiensis), at least, form a cline and may not be subspecifically distinct from one another#R. Fifteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. n. occidentalis Delacour, 1948 – S China (NW Yunnan) and NE Myanmar.
  • L. n. rufipes (Oates, 1898) – N Myanmar in Northern Shan States (between R Irrawaddy and R Salween).
  • L. n. ripponi (Sharpe, 1902) – N Myanmar in Southern Shan States (between R Irrawaddy and R Salween).
  • L. n. jonesi (Oates, 1903) – SC China (SW Yunnan), N & C Thailand and Myanmar (South Shan States between R Salween and R Mekong).
  • L. n. omeiensis Cheng Tso-hsin, Chang Chun-fan & Tang Jui-chang, 1964 – C China (WC Sichuan).
  • L. n. rongjiangensis Tan Yao-kuang & Wu Zhikang, 1981 – S China (SW Guizhou).
  • L. n. beaulieui Delacour, 1948 – S China (SE Yunnan), N Laos (S to 17° N) and N Vietnam.
  • L. n. nycthemera (Linnaeus, 1758) – S China (Guangdong and Guangxi) and NE Vietnam (E Tonkin).
  • L. n. whiteheadi (Ogilvie-Grant, 1899) – Hainan I (S China).
  • L. n. fokiensis Delacour, 1948 – SE China (NW Fujian and possibly Zhejiang); possibly this race in NW Jiangxi, and perhaps also adjacent Hunan.
  • L. n. berliozi (Delacour & Jabouille, 1928) – E Laos and C Vietnam on W slopes of Annamitic Mts, and Nakay Plateau.
  • L. n. beli (Oustalet, 1898) – WC Vietnam on E slopes of Annamitic Mts.
  • L. n. engelbachi Delacour, 1948 – Bolovens Plateau, in S Laos.
  • L. n. lewisi (Delacour & Jabouille, 1928) – SW Cambodia (Elephant and Cardamom Mts) and SE Thailand.
  • L. n. annamensis (Ogilvie-Grant, 1906) – S Vietnam.
  • Descriptive notes

    Length very variable with race. Nominate male 120–125 cm (tail 60–75 cm); female 70–71 cm (tail 24–32 cm). Race lewisi male c. 67 cm (tail c... read more


    Male territorial call has been likened to that of Phasianus colchicus or L.... read more


    Variety of primary and secondary forested habitats (e.g. both broadleaf and pine-dominated areas in... read more

    Food and feeding

    In Guangdong (S China), 64 plant items and 30 animal species recorded in 13 gut contents taken throughout year; especially seeds and fruits... read more


    In China, laying from mid Mar in C Guangdong (nominate race), otherwise from Apr onwards; thought to be Mar–May in Upper Myanmar and... read more


    No information available.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: annamensis endangered; whiteheadi endangered; engelbachi endangered; lewisi... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 December 2019).