Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Silver pheasant

Binomial name: Lophura nycthemera (Carolus Linnaeus, 1758)

The silver pheasant (Lophura nycthemera) is a species of pheasant found in forests, mainly in mountains, of mainland Southeast Asia, and eastern and southern China, with introduced populations in Hawaii and various locations in the US mainland. The male is black and white, while the female is mainly brown. Both sexes have a bare red face and red legs (the latter separating it from the greyish-legged kalij pheasant). It is common in aviculture, and overall also remains common in the wild, but some of its subspecies (notably whiteheadi from Hainan, engelbachi from southern Laos, and annamensis from southern Vietnam) are rare and threatened.


Like other pheasants, the silver pheasant was placed in the genus Phasianus when described by Linnaeus in 1758. Since then it – or at least some of the subspecies associated with it – have been placed either in Euplocamus or Gennceus. Today all major authorities place the silver pheasant in Lophura.

The silver pheasant is closely related to the kalij pheasant and the two are known to hybridize. The placement of the taxa lineata and crawfurdi has been a matter of dispute, with some treating them as subspecies of the kalij pheasant and others as subspecies of the silver pheasant. They have greyish legs as in the kalij pheasant, but their plumage is closer to that of some subspecies of the silver pheasant. Additionally, as the silver pheasant, lineata and crawfurdi are found east of the Irrawaddy River, a major zoogeographic barrier, while all other subspecies of the kalij pheasant are found west of the river (oatesi, a subspecies of the kalij pheasant, has sometimes been reported as occurring east of that river, but this is incorrect). Based on mtDNA, it was recently confirmed that lineata and crawfurdi should be regarded as subspecies of the kalij pheasant.

With these two as subspecies of the kalij pheasant, the silver pheasant has 15 subspecies. However, while some subspecies are relatively distinctive, several others (at least rufipes, occidentalis, ripponi, jonesi, beaulieui, nycthemera and fokiensis) are likely part of a cline, which, if confirmed, would result in them being junior synonyms of the nominate subspecies. Several other taxa, for example andersoni, are now considered invalid by all major authorities.

Once considered a very rare species, the imperial pheasant is actually a naturally occurring hybrid between the silver pheasant and the Vietnamese pheasant.


This is a relatively large pheasant, with males of the largest subspecies having a total length of 120 to 125 cm, including a tail of up to 75 cm, while the males of the smallest subspecies barely reach 70 cm in total length, including a tail of about 30 cm. The body mass of males can range from 1.13 - 2 kg. Females of all subspecies are notably smaller than their respective males, with a size range of 55 - 90 cm in total length, including a tail of 24 - 32 cm. The body mass of females can range from 1 - 1.3 kg.

Males of the northern subspecies, which are the largest, have white upperparts and tail (most feathers with some black markings), while their underparts and crest are glossy bluish-black. The males of the southern subspecies have greyer upperparts and tail with extensive black markings, making them appear far darker than the northern subspecies. The adult male plumage is reached in the second year.

Females are brown and shorter-tailed than the males. Females of some subspecies have whitish underparts strongly patterned with black, and in whiteheadi this extends to the upper mantle.

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Videos of Silver pheasant

  • Silver pheasant - Kaeng Krachan Nation Park

    Silver pheasant - Kaeng Krachan Nation Park

  • Silver pheasant - Khao Yai National Park

    Silver pheasant - Khao Yai National Park

Scientific classification

Lophura nycthemera


  • Lophura nycthemera annamensis (William Robert Ogilvie-Grant, 1906) - Montane forests of southern Vietnam

    Common name(s): Annam silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera beaulieui (Jean Théodore Delacour, 1948) - South central China to northern Laos and northern Vietnam

    Common name(s): Lao silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera beli (Émile Oustalet, 1898) - Eastern slopes of Annamite Range in central Vietnam

    Common name(s): Bel's silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera berliozi (Jean Théodore Delacour & Pierre Jabouille, 1928) - Western slopes of Annamite Range in central Vietnam

    Common name(s): Berlioz's silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera engelbachi (Jean Théodore Delacour, 1948) - Bolaven Plateau of southern Laos

    Common name(s): Boloven silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera fokiensis (Jean Théodore Delacour, 1948) - Southeastern China

    Common name(s): Fokien silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera jonesi (Eugene William Oates, 1903) - Myanmar to southwestern China and central Thailand

    Common name(s): Jones's pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera lewisi (Jean Théodore Delacour & Pierre Jabouille, 1928) - Mountains of southwest Cambodia and southeast Thailand

    Common name(s): Lewis's silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera nycthemera (nominate) (Carolus Linnaeus, 1758) - Southern China to northern Vietnam
  • Lophura nycthemera occidentalis (Jean Théodore Delacour, 1948) - Western silver pheasant – south central China and northeastern Myanmar
  • Lophura nycthemera omeiensis (Tso-hsin Cheng, Chun-fan Chang & Jui-chang Tang, 1964) - Southern Sichuan in south central China

    Common name(s): Szechwan silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera ripponi (Richard Bowdler Sharpe, 1902) - Southern Shan State of northern Myanmar

    Common name(s): Rippon's silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera rongjiangensi (Yao-kuang Tan & Zhikang Wu, 1981) - Southeastern Guizhou in south central China

    Common name(s): Kweichow silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera rufipes (Eugene William Oates, 1898) - Northern Shan State of northern Myanmar

    Common name(s): Ruby mines silver pheasant

  • Lophura nycthemera whiteheadi (William Robert Ogilvie-Grant, 1899) - Hainan in southern China

    Common name(s): Hainan silver pheasant

Silver pheasant is found in following locations in Thailand

Please note that this non-official list is not complete nor necessarily accurate. This list is a summary of checklists from other websites, blogs, publications, photo/videos published on various websites or our own findings. We appreciate your contributions with photo proof.

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Silver pheasant (male)

Silver pheasant (male)

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Range map of Lophura nycthemera in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are generated automatically based on very limited data we have about the protected sites, the data is not necessarily accurate. Please help us to improve our range maps by sharing your findings/knowledge.