Some attributes and symbolism of the pheasant include:
The pheasant is a native bird of China where it is revered for its beauty, and thought of as a solar animal. Indeed, the Golden pheasant’s body is a shock of flaming red; its head a ruddy yellow. So intense are these solar colors that there is some debate as to whether or not the Golden pheasant (image shown right) may be linked to the legendary phoenix.
Also in China the pheasant is a symbol of nobility, and is associated with high-rank in political office and civil service.
In Japan the pheasant is a divine messenger for Amaterasu, the great sun goddess. Amaterasu is a focal point of the Shinto pantheon. She is the ruler of the heavens, so her association with the pheasant made this creature an important symbol of power, abundance and promise.
Native American lore considered the pheasant a symbol of protection and concealment. Presumably because regardless of their airborne capabilities, they prefer most of their time hunkered down in tall grass, concealed from sight. Further, unlike most winged creatures, the pheasant nests on the ground rather than trees.
Pheasants are considered symbols of sexuality because of the amazingly attractive male. Furthermore, the male’s appearance is quite effective, and often wins him a harem of females.
Pheasants make excellent animal totems for many reasons. Their energy stimulates sexuality, encourages creativity, and enhances energy. I’ve gone into more detail about the symbolism of the pheasant (including the types of people who attract pheasants as an animal air totem) here.
Post Script: Thank you Petra for this magnificent photo!