Phasianus colchicus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758

Order Galliformes

Family Phasianidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Extinct EX; International: BeC-III.

General distribution. It breeds in the Transcaucasus, Eastern Georgia, Northeastern Azerbaijan, Southern Armenia, Northwestern Iran.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Resident. Until the end of the 19th century usually in Southeastern Bulgaria between the lower reaches of the river Maritsa and the Black Sea. Until about 1880 in the Aytos area of the Balkan Mountains, in Sakar and the Sliven field, until the 1930s in Strandzha and the regions of Elhovo, Burgas, Yambol, Sliven, Petrich, Pomorie, Svilengrad, near the village of Trankovo, in the regions of Karnobat, Vidin, Kubrat, Razgrad, near the Batova River and in the Petrich region [1, 2]. After 1950, only in the lower reaches of the river Tundzha, and about 1980 only in the Dolna Topchiya reserve near Elhovo [1, 3]. At the end of the 1950s, it could probably be observed in the Krusharska grove near the village of Hadzhi Dimitar, in Gorna Topchiya near the village of Konevets, in Dolna Topchiya near Elhovo and near the village of Vinitsa at Parvomay, and in the Azmaka River near the Ormana locality at Yambol it already had hybrid signs [4]. Until the 1960s, only in singular places in the regions of Stara Zagora, Yambol, Elhovo and Parvomay [1, 2]. In the 1990s it diseappeared in Bulgaria (and thus also in the whole of Europe to the west of the Black Sea). In 1980-1990, all individuals from the valley of the river Tundzha had hybrid signs [5, 6]. The numbers in Bulgaria are unknown.

Habitats. Forests and shrub associations (mainly riverside ones in the valleys), more open hilly terrains with thin vegetation, arable areas. It preferred flat and hilly dense forests, riverside forests and inlets with a developed underbrush and climbing vegetation.

Biology. Resident. It performs short non-periodic wanderings. The male has a harem of 3-5 females. Ground-nesting. The female lays 9-14 eggs in April that she incubates for about 22 days. A second, smaller clutch is also possible. Its food is mainly vegetable small rodents, lizards and invertebrates [7], preferring ground snails.

Similar species. The Green Pheasant (Phasianus versicolor).

Negative factors. Hybridization with other subspecies, destruction and degradation of habitats (deforestation and thinning of forests), excessive hunting, disturbance.

Conservation measures taken. Since 1934, it has been bred in the Tundzha Pheasant Farm (1000 2000 individuals have been obtained [8]) . Until its disappearance, the major part of the former population of the subspecies inhabited a reserve territory. Possibilities are discussed for developing a long-term programme for the supply of wild birds from Georgia, release of captive bred birds initially in flat forest reserves near rivers, for example the Dolna Topchiya and the Gorna Topchiya reserves in the region of Yambol, and then in Strandzha, in the forests in the mouths of the rivers Batova, Kamchiya, Ropotamo, Rezovska, etc.

References. 1. Boev, 1985; 2. Boev, Gerasimov, in press; 3. Nankinov, 1990; 4. Petrov et al., 1959; 5. Boev, 1989; 6. Boev, 1991; 7. Boev, 1962; 8. Angelov, 1985.

Author: Zlatozar Boev

Pheasant (distribution map)

Pheasant (drawing)