Gamebird Conservation


During the first half of the nineteenth century, had you ventured into a meat market in New York or Baltimore, you might well have encountered a rather "fishy" tasting duck offered for sale. That duck, often said to have rotted as few desired to eat them, was that of a Labrador Duck (Camptorbyncbus labradorius), a now extinct species. While discovered inhabiting the northeast seaboard in 1789, the duck, for reasons unknown, had disappeared by 1878.

While at least four species of waterfowl have passed into extinction, I know of only one Gallinaceous bird, the Himalayan Mountain Quail (Opbrysia superciliosa) that can be added to that list. This is not to say that many additional species are not heading in this direction. Habitat modification and hunting seem to be reducing gamebird numbers everywhere at a rapid rate. While efforts by the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP) and the World Pheasant Association have made some substantial progress in aiding some of these species, as you can see from the list at the end of this article, they have a rather formidable challenge ahead of them.

While it is encouraging to note that a number of species facing troubles in the wild are well represented in captivity, it is equally saddening that most are not. Having had the pleasure of working with tragopans, as well as brown-, blue- and white-eared pheasants in the late sixties, I know well of their awe-inspiring beauty. Anyone who is tempted to associate bright colors of enchanting combinations with only small birds needs to visit a pheasant collection. We can only hope that the next ICBP list contains no more, perhaps fewer, species of gamebirds. In order to help and/or learn more about pheasant conservation, write to:

World Pheasant Association,

P.O. Box 5, Child Beale Wildlife Trust, Lower Basildon, Readings RG8 9PF,


Threatened Gamebirds taken from "Birds to Watch", ICBP Technical Publication No. 8, Smithsonian Institution Press, Collar and Andrews, editors, 1988.


Threatened Ducks and Geese West Indian Whistling Duck Hawaiian Goose

Freckled Duck

Crested Shelduck

Baykal Teal

New Zealand Brown Teal

Laysan Duck

Pink-headed Duck

Madagascar Pochard

Scaly-sided Merganser

Lesser White-fronted Goose Red-breasted Goose

Ruddy-headed Goose

White-winged Duck

Madagascar Teal

Hawaiian Duck

Marbled Teal

Baer 's Pochard

Brazilian Merganser

White-headed Duck

Threatened Pheasants, Francolins, Quail & Peafowl Bearded Wood-partridge

Gorgeted Wood-quail

Mount Cameroon Francolin

Nahan's Francolin

Manipur Bush Quail

Rickert's Hill-partridge Chestnut-headed Partridge

Chestnut- necklaced Partridge Western Tragopan

Cabot's Tragopan

Chinese Monal

Vo Quys Pheasant Swinhoe's Pheasant Crested Fireback Bulwer's Pheasant Brown-eared Pheasant Hume's Pheasant Reeve's Pheasant

Malaysian Peacock-pheasant Crested Argus

Congo Peacock

Chestnut Wood-quail Djibouti Francolin Swierstra's Francolin Swamp Partridge

Sichuan Hill-partridge Orange-necked Partridge White-eared Hill-partridge Himalayan Quail

Blyth's Tragopan

Sclater's Monal

Imperial Pheasant

Edwards' Pheasant Salvadori's Pheasant Siamese Fireback White-eared Pheasant Cheer Pheasant

Mikado Pheasant

Germain's Peacock-pheasant Palawan Peacock-pheasant Green Peafowl •