Above: An adult male Edwards’s pheasant, one of two pairs on site. Five chicks of this species are among the latest additions to Sudeley Castle. The wild population is extremely small, with all subpopulations tiny. Declines have been driven by high levels of hunting and lowland forest deterioration Photo: John Corder

 

EGGS FROM A pheasant species on the brink of extinction have successfully hatched at Sudeley Castle – boosting the total number of chicks in the pheasantry to the highest in 23 years.

On April 29, the first of five Critically Endangered Edwards’s pheasant chicks (Lophura edwardsi) hatched at the castle’s pheasantry in Winchcombe, located in the heart of the Cotswolds. The pheasantry is home to one of the largest public collections of rare-breed pheasants in the world.

This year’s breeding season has given staff hope after last year’s four Edwards’s pheasant chicks sadly died.

The new additions are five of 25 rare-breed pheasant chicks to hatch on site so far this year. Among them are Vulnerable Reeves’s (Syrmaticus reevesii), Crawfurd’s Kalij (Lophura nycthemera crawfurdii), Japanese green (Phasianus versicolor), true silver (L. n. nycthemera), and blue eared and Vulnerable brown eared pheasants (Crossoptilon auritum and mantchuricum).

For 23 years, John Sherlock, Sudeley’s bird curator, has looked after birds at the castle. He said: “This year we have had more chicks than ever before – 25 with at least a dozen more due to hatch in the next week or so.

“It is a really great result and an extremely busy time. The hatching of these chicks is a huge boost for the captive breeding programme for these species, some of which are very vulnerable in the wild.”

The pheasantry works closely with the World Pheasant Association (WPA), and is dedicated to the conservation of species either extinct in the wild or endangered.

● For details about visiting Sudeley Castle and Gardens, visit: www.sudeleycastle.co.uk or tel: 01242 602 308.

 

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