Can You Identify This Mystery Chicken Breed?

Do you know this breed? This ancient Japanese chicken with striking tail and distinctly handsome colors and combinations is most often kept as an ornamental breed.

by Chickens Magazine HQ
PHOTO: illustrated by Diane Jacky

Chickens and other poultry members come in all sizes, shapes, colors and personalities. Nearly 400 recognized breeds and varieties of poultry exist, including large-fowl and bantam chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl. Using our illustration and a few selected hints, can you guess which chicken breed we have depicted here?

Find out the answer below!


  • This ancient breed from Japan were originally kept in the imperial gardens. 
  • Individual males were given special care and the tail feathers sometimes developed to the fantastic length of 20 feet. 
  • Murray McMurray says that “modern fowl are still unusually handsome in color and combinations” and “tails are striking, although of more ordinary length.” 
  • There has been much confusion as to the proper name for this breed, but you could say the commonly accepted name today has risen from the ashes.


The breed depicted above is the Silver Phoenix, which is typically kept as an ornamental bird. Hens aren’t reliable as layers, but they’ll become broody and make good mothers. Although it’s sometimes referred to as an Onagadori, the Phoenix is distinctly different from its ancient Japanese ancestor when it comes to lifespan and tail length.

Read more: Onagadori chickens are striking and super rare.

Standard Phoenix cocks weigh 5 1/2 pounds; hens, 4 pounds; bantam cocks, 26 ounces; and bantam hens, 24 ounces.

The Phoenix requires a lot of attention and a patient handler. To learn more about this beautiful breed, visit To purchase the superbly elegant Silver Phoenix, visit Murray McMurray Hatchery online.

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This mystery chicken breed was brought to you byMurray McMurray Hatcherywhich provides the highest quality poultry and auxiliary products to its customers and has been a trusted, knowledgeable industry resource for more than 100 years. Whether you are an experienced or novice enthusiast, Murray McMurray is sure you will enjoy its wide selection of breeds and supplies to assist you with raising your flock!

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Chickens magazine.

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