Malaysian peacock-pheasant -- 凤冠孔雀雉 (Polyplectron malacense)

Rear view of a Malaysian peacock-pheasant
Loading more images and videos...

Malaysian peacock-pheasant fact file

Malaysian peacock-pheasant description

GenusPolyplectron (1)

The plumage is a warm brown colour with distinctive green ocelli (eyelike spots of colour) on the mantle and wings (2) (4). Displaying males raise their crown feathers to form an impressive crest of long feathers (2). Males can be distinguished from other Polyplectron species by a combination of the base colour of the plumage, the presence of buff coloured rings surrounding each ocelli, their orange facial skin and their crest (4). Females possess only a very short crest, are smaller, darker and shorter tailed than males, and have a yellower facial skin (2).

Also known as
crested peacock pheasant, Malay peacock-pheasant, Malayan peacock-pheasant.
Espolonero Malayo, Faisán de Cola Ocelada Malayo, Faisán Real Malayo.
Male length: 50 – 53.5 cm (2)
Female length: 40 – 45 cm (2)

Malaysian peacock-pheasant biology

Although very little is actually known about its breeding behaviour, the Malaysian peacock-pheasant is thought to have a polygamous mating system (5). At least some males in a population clear leaf litter from small areas of the forest floor and then call loudly from nearby. These ‘display scrapes’ are made in particular parts of the forest (6). Displaying males perform an elaborate and ritualised display (7). This species is unusual in laying just one, very large egg, which is then incubated for 22 to 23 days (4). In captivity, young males have been recorded acquiring their plumage after six days and being able to fly after 23 (5). Diet is not fully understood, but is believed to consist of invertebrates, such as snails and insects, and possibly seeds (5).


Malaysian peacock-pheasant range

Found in the Malay Peninsula possibly including extreme southern Thailand (2). Reports of this bird’s occurrence in Sumatra have been refuted (2) and so it might actually be restricted to Peninsular Malaysia.


Malaysian peacock-pheasant habitat

Found on level or gently sloping ground in tall primary and secondary lowland forest, usually from just 15 to 80 m and never above 300 m (2).


Malaysian peacock-pheasant status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU A2c+3c; C1) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Malaysian peacock-pheasant threats

Lowland forest clearance and modification for cultivation (rubber and palm oil plantations especially) pose the primary threats to the Malaysian peacock-pheasant (8). 75 percent of suitable habitat that was available prior to 1970 has been lost (9). This pheasant has consequently suffered a rapid population decline, and its small remaining population is becoming increasingly fragmented with the progressive erosion of its specialised lowland forest habitat (1). Hunting for food, sport and the bird trade is thought to have contributed to this pheasant’s probable extinction in Thailand, but there is no evidence that this is a particularly sought after species in Malaysia (8).


Malaysian peacock-pheasant conservation

Populations of the Malaysian peacock-pheasant occur in at least two protected areas in Malaysia - the Taman Negara and Krau Wildlife Reserve - and further populations have been reported at Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve (8). A number of forest reserves that do not officially qualify as protected areas under wildlife legislation also contain populations of this bird, including Pasoh (8). Although captive breeding projects have been successful, the low reproductive rate of the Malaysian peacock-pheasant makes it difficult to raise large numbers in captivity (4). Nevertheless, the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks, aided by the World Pheasant Association, is currently using captive stock in a reintroduction project to bolster numbers in the wild (10).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the Malaysian peacock-pheasant see:

BirdLife International:

Fuller, R.A., Garson, P.J. (2000) Pheasants: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000-2004. IUCN, Gland, Cambridge. Available at:

McGowan. P.J.K. (1994). Phasianidae (Pheasants and partridges). In J. Hoyo, A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Volume 11, pp.434-552. Lynx Editions, Barcelona.

Madge, S. and McGowan, P. (2002) Pheasants, partridges and grouse: a guide to the pheasants, partridges, quails, grouse, guineafowl, buttonquails and sandgrouse of the world. Helm, London.



Authenticated (24/04/2006) by Dr. Philip McGowan, Director of the World Pheasant Association.



In birds, the wings, shoulder feathers and back, when coloured differently from the rest of the body.
An eyelike spot of colour, such as those on the tail of the peacock.


  1. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (November, 2005)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2005)
  3. CITES (November, 2005)
  4. (November, 2005)
  5. (November, 2005)
  6. McGowan, P.J.K. (1994) Phasianidae (Pheasants and partridges). In: Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (Eds) Handbook of the birds of the world, Volume 11. Lynx Editions, Barcelona.
  7. Davison, G.W.H. (1983) Behaviour of Malay peacock-pheasant Polypletctron malacense (Aves: Phasianidae). Journal of Zoology, 210: 57 - 65.
  8. Fuller, R.A. and Garson, P.J. (2000) Pheasants: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000-2004. IUCN, Gland, Cambridge. Available at:
  9. McGowan, P. and Gillman, M. (1997) Assessment of the conservation status of partridges and pheasants in Southeast Asia. Biodiversity and Conservation, 6: 1321 - 1337.
  10. Corder, J. (2006) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Rear view of a Malaysian peacock-pheasant  
Rear view of a Malaysian peacock-pheasant

© Ken Lucas /

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Malaysian peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron malacense) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top