Living Bird Magazine
Ring-necked PheasantPhasianus colchicus
- ORDER: Galliformes
- FAMILY: Phasianidae
Ring-necked Pheasants stride across open fields and weedy roadsides in the U.S. and southern Canada. Males sport iridescent copper-and-gold plumage, a red face, and a crisp white collar; their rooster-like crowing can be heard from up to a mile away. The brown females blend in with their field habitat. Introduced to the U.S. from Asia in the 1880s, pheasants quickly became one of North America’s most popular upland game birds. Watch for them along roads or bursting into flight from brushy cover.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Because they live in tall vegetation and old fields, Ring-necked Pheasants can be hard to see even in places where they’re numerous. Keep an eye out for them running between patches of cover as you travel through agricultural areas—particularly along dirt roads where the birds often forage in weedy areas. Winter is a good time to look for Ring-necked Pheasants, when vegetation is at a minimum, crops have been harvested, and some areas have a snowy backdrop for the birds to stand out against. In spring and summer, listen and watch for males performing their calling and wing-flapping display in open areas.
- Faisán Vulgar (Spanish)
- Faisan de Colchide (French)
This species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- Pheasants, along with most members of the grouse family, have specialized, powerful breast muscles—the “white meat” that you find on a chicken. These muscles deliver bursts of power that allow the birds to escape trouble in a hurry, flushing nearly vertically into the air and reaching speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour.
- While the birds normally don’t cover more than about 600 feet at a time, strong winds can extend their flights considerably. Observers in 1941 reported seeing a pheasant fly a record four miles while crossing a body of water.
- Male Ring-necked Pheasants may harass other ground-nesting birds, such as the Gray Partridge and the Greater Prairie-Chicken. Female pheasants sometimes lay their own eggs in these birds’ nests. This may explain why some male pheasants have been seen chasing away male prairie-chickens and courting females—the pheasants may have been raised in prairie-chicken nests and imprinted on the wrong species.
- Ring-necked Pheasants sometimes cope with extreme cold by simply remaining dormant for days at a time.
- Pheasants practice "harem-defense polygyny" where one male keeps other males away from a small group of females during the breeding season.