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threatened and/or endangered

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus


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Ring-necked Pheasant, male
© Tim Zurowski

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Family: Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse view all from this family

Description 30-36" (76-91 cm). Larger than a chicken, with a long pointed tail. Male has red eye patch, brilliant green head, and (usually) white neck ring; body patterned in soft brown and iridescent russet. Female mottled sandy brown, with shorter tail.

Habitat Farmlands, pastures, and grassy woodland edges.

Nesting 6-15 buff-olive eggs in a grass-lined depression concealed in dense grass or weeds.

Range Introduced from British Columbia, Alberta, Minnesota, Ontario, and Maritime Provinces south to central California, Oklahoma, and Maryland. Native to Asia.

Voice   Loud crowing caw-cawk! followed by a resonant beating of the wings. When alarmed flies off with a loud cackle.

Discussion The North American birds of this species are descended from stock brought from several different parts of the Old World and thus are somewhat variable. They are very tolerant of humans and can get by with a minimum of cover; they often nest on the outskirts of large cities. Although successful in most grassland habitats, this species has its North American headquarters in the central plains. After the breakup of winter flocks, males establish large territories and mate with several females. At first the chicks feed largely on insects but soon shift to the adult diet of berries, seeds, buds, and leaves.

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