The golden pheasant is native to forests in mountainous areas of western China, but feral populations have been established in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The adult male is 90–105cm in length, its tail accounting for two-thirds of the total length. It is unmistakable with its golden crest and rump and bright red body. The deep orange “cape” can be spread in a display, appearing as an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the face except its bright yellow eye with a pinpoint black pupil. Other characteristics of the male plumage are the central tail feathers, black spotted with cinnamon, as well as the tip of the tail being a cinnamon buff. The female (hen) is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage similar to that of the female Common Pheasant. She is darker and more slender than the hen of that species, with a proportionately longer tail (half her 60–80cm length). The female’s breast and sides are barred buff and blackish brown, and the abdomen is plain buff. She has a buff face and throat. Some abnormal females may later in their lifetime get some male plumage. Both males and females have yellow legs and yellow bills.
Golden Pheasants lay 8-12 eggs at a time and will then incubate these for around 22–23 days.
Golden Pheasants feed on the ground, but they roost in trees at night. While they can fly in short bursts, they are quite clumsy in flight so they spend most of their time on the ground and they prefer to run rather than fly. If startled, they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed and with a distinctive wing sound.
They feed on berries, invertebrates, seeds and other types of vegetation.