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White Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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While this species has a large range, only limited habitat is available and therefore it is thought to have a moderately small population. Current population trends are uncertain but it is suspected to be in decline and fears remain over the impacts that continuing development in Tibet may have. For these reasons it is considered Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

86-96 cm. White plumage distinctive. Sometimes washed grey on the upperparts. Has a black tail, red legs, a red face, and black cap. Juveniles are brownish-grey but quickly obtain adult plumage. Similar spp. None. Voice advertising call is a far-carrying raucous grating.

Distribution and population
Crossoptilon crossoptilon is found in China, where it is known from Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet. It has been estimated to number only 10,000-50,000 individuals and to be declining, but given the extent of its range it is unlikely that numbers fall at the lower end of this band.

Population justification
This species's population is estimated at 10,000-50,000 individuals in total, roughly equivalent to 6,700-33,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be declining slowly (Madge and McGowan 2002), owing to habitat loss and hunting pressure.

It inhabits coniferous and mixed forests near the treeline, plus subalpine birch and rhododendron scrub, at 3,000-4,300 m. Its distribution appears to be determined primarily by water, foraging sites and predation (Fei Jia et al. 2005). It can be common around Buddhist monasteries where it receives cultural protection, but it generally occurs at very low densities in small groups (A. Pack-Blumenau in litt. 2006). The species is monogamous during the breeding season (Wu Yi and Peng Jitai 1996), but it can occasionally be found in groups of up to 30 individuals in winter. It feeds by pecking at the ground and digging for bulbs. Natural predators include crows and buzzards (Wu Yi and Peng Jitai 1996).

It is threatened by deforestation and hunting for food, but the high-altitude forests that it inhabits are not currently suffering rapid rates of deforestation. Completion of a rail link to Tibet is imminent and will lead to increased tourism in the area. It is feared that knock-on effects of this will increase the rate of habitat loss (Wang Nan in litt. 2006).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. Recent records from several protected areas. This bird is traditionally protected under the umbrella of Buddhist culture. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to obtain a more accurate global population estimate. Consider using the species as a potential flagship for promoting pheasant conservation within Sichuan.

Fei Jia; Nan Wang; Guang-Mei Zheng. 2005. Winter habitat requirements of White Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon and Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus in south-west China. Bird Conservation International 15: 303-312.

Madge, S.; McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, partridges and grouse: including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. Christopher Helm, London.

Yi Wu ; Jitai Peng. 1996. Breeding Ecology of the White Eared-Pheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon) in Western Sichuan, China. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 28(2): 98 - 102.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Taylor, J.

Garson, P., Pack-Blumenau, A., Wang, N., Lu, X., Grabowski, K., Kaul, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Crossoptilon crossoptilon. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - White eared-pheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Hodgson, 1838)
Population size 6700-33000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 172,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species