pheasant, noun

Origin:
English, AfrikaansShow more Transferred use of general English pheasant a name for any of several species of game birds of the genus Phasianus; probably influenced by Afrikaans fisant, used of the francolins.
a. Any of several species of game bird of the genus Francolinus of the Phasanidae. Cf. partridge.
Note:
There exists some confusion in the application of the names ‘pheasant’ and ‘partridge’ to francolins, the most common explanation being that those species with bare facial and neck parts are referred to as ‘pheasants’, whereas ‘partridge’ is used of birds with feathered heads and necks.
1785 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 153I found here two new species of the genus of tetrao, one of which is called partridge and the other pheasant: either sort being nearly of the size of our partridges.
1790 tr. of F. Le Vaillant’s Trav. I. 157Great numbers of partridges; particularly of that large species which the inhabitants of the Cape call pheasants.
1834 T. Pringle Afr. Sketches 515The bird called a Pheasant at the Cape is a sort of grouse, or rather a species intermediate between the grouse and the partridge.
1837 N. Polson Subaltern’s Sick Leave 119There is..a bird, general all over the Colony, styled ‘pheasant,’ though about as like a pheasant of England as a Dutch Boer is to a Bond-street exquisite.
1859 E.L. Layard in Cape Monthly Mag. V. Feb. 72By the side of the road we put up three of the ‘pheasants’ of this part of the country. They differ from the species which we find down here, being the Francolinus Nudicollis.
1937 H. Sauer Ex Afr. 181These are what we call pheasants in South Africa, but they are really francolins, of which family there are no less than nineteen varieties, including our so-called partridges, the redwing, the greywing, and that excellent little fellow the schwempe or bush-partridge.
1961 D. Bee Children of Yesterday 282A pheasant called in the distance, a free, wild calling which he loved to hear.
1981 P. Dane Great Houses of Constantia 136I’d gone up into the mountain looking for pheasant.
b. With distinguishing epithet:
bush pheasant, some unknown francolin;
Cape pheasant, the rednecked francolin F. afer; red-necked partridge, see partridge sense b;
coast pheasant, the Natal francolin (see Natal sense c), Francolinus natalensis;
Natal pheasant, see Natal francolin (Natal sense c);
red pheasant, red-necked pheasant, see Cape pheasant.
1897 J.P. Fitzpatrick Outspan 34I was keeping an eye on the scrub on my side for the chance of a bush pheasant.
a1823 J. Ewart Jrnl (1970) 13On the summits of the mountains are still to be found a few antelopes, hares, partridges, and Cape pheasants.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 4We flushed and killed a brace of what are called Cape Pheasants, but by no means resembling the English pheasant. They have something of the grouse flavour.
1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 84For game birds we had the grey partridge and the Cape pheasant; the latter..being almost tailless...The head..being more fowl-like, with its red wattles, and the legs clumsy, crimson coloured.
1906 Stark & Sclater Birds of S. Afr. IV. 214Francolinus capensis. Noisy Francolin or Cape Pheasant.
1985 Weekend Argus 30 Nov. (Suppl.) 6Every so often a flock of Cape pheasant would explode out of the low scrub almost at my feet, protesting loudly as they glided to safety.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 124Coast pheasant or partridge, Francolinus natalensis is so called in Natal.
1790 tr. of F. Le Vaillant’s Trav. I. 183Besides the three species of partridges above-mentioned, we observed another called the red pheasant, because its feet and the naked skin of its throat are of that colour.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 395Red-necked pheasant, Pternistes nudicollis, not a common species; found in Pondoland and Natal.
Any of several species of game bird of the genus Francolinus of the Phasanidae.

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