Ring-necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus Order GALLIFORMES - Family PHASIANIDAE - Subfamily Phasianinae

Next >>

 

The Ring-necked Pheasant was introduced into North America from Asia and is established over much of the continent, especially in agricultural lands. It is a distinctive and colorful species and is a popular game bird.

 

 

Cool Facts

  • In very bad weather, pheasants are known to stay on a roost for several days without eating.

     

  • Pheasants practice "harem-defense polygyny" where one male keeps other males away from a small group of females during the breeding season.

     

  • Across the native range, about 34 races of the species are recognized. The Green Pheasant race is sometimes considered a different species. Multiple introductions of different races have been made in North America.

Description

  • Size: 50-70 cm (20-28 in)
  • Wingspan: 56-86 cm (22-34 in)
  • Weight: 500-3000 g (17.65-105.9 ounces)
  • Medium to large chicken-like bird.
  • Long tail, often held cocked up at an angle.
  • Wings rather long and rounded in flight.

 

Sex Differences

Male brightly colored, female smaller and cryptically colored.

Male

Face red and bare. Head iridescent green with lighter tufts above and behind eyes. White ring around neck. Breast maroon. Flanks tending toward orange. Tail long and pointed, brown with dark barring. Rump gray. Spur halfway up leg.

Female

Mottled brown with small black spots on back. Long, pointed tail brown with black barring.

Immature

Juvenile like female, young male shows some adult patterning by two months.

Similar Species

 

  • Sharp-tailed Grouse similar to female, but smaller with shorter tail, white outer tail feathers, and white spots on wings.

Range

Summer Range

Established and resident on most mid-latitude agricultural lands from British Columbia and California to New Jersey and Nova Scotia. Also introduced into Hawaii and every continent except Antarctica.

Habitat

Agricultural land, especially cultivated lands interspersed with grass ditches, hedges, marshes, woodland borders, and brushy groves.

Food

Seeds, especially cultivated grain, grasses, leaves, roots, wild fruits and nuts, and insects.

Behavior

Foraging

Scratches on ground and digs with bill for food.

Other Behavior

Frequently takes dust baths.

Reproduction

Nest Type

On ground, in tall grass or weeds. A scrape in ground or vegetation. Unlined or sparsely lined with vegetation, and occasionally a few breast feathers from female.

Egg Description

Uniform olive brown.

Clutch Size

Usually 7-15 eggs.

Condition at Hatching

Open-eyed and covered in down, able to leave the nest and feed itself.

Conservation Status

Populations declining, probably because of changes in farming practices.