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Around this time of year the annual hunting season ends, and suddenly all the pheasants come out of hiding. For the whole of Spring, male pheasants stake their territory and guard it with their lives until mating season which is around April. The females hang around close by, but are usually hard to see because of their camouflage. The males with their striking colours and long tails, stand for hours each day on a high spot looking over their territory. Every 5-10 minutes they will carry out a blink-and-you-miss-it territory display. It only lasts for a second and although we can hear it clearly, with our slow human eyes it is impossible to see what is happening. Other pheasants can see the display clearly though. They can tell how fit and strong the pheasant is from both the sound and the display.
In slow motion we can also see the dance clearly. The male stretches his neck high, lets out a double note call, then quickly flaps his wings before puffing out his breast and head feathers. This display is called drumming, named after the sound that the pheasant makes by flapping it's wings rapidly. I have slowed the picture down in this video, but kept the sound at normal speed so you can hear what it sounds like. The more I watch this video the more I notice. The power of the drumming at the end is incredible, you can see the strong grip that the pheasant has on the branch, and the draft of wind that moves all the grass behind the pheasant on the lower left side of the video.
I took this video last year, in a quiet valley near my home in Chiba. It was a hot afternoon during Golden Week, and this pheasant was obviously tired as he didn't notice me sneak right up to him!
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