Photo: Hallie/Great Backyard Bird Count Participant

Ring-necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus

Most kinds of pheasants are shy forest birds of Asia. The Ring-neck, better adapted to open country, has been introduced as a game bird to several parts of the world, including North America. Here it thrives in some areas, such as the northern prairies, where the iridescent colors and rich crowing calls of the males add much to the landscape. Winter flocks of these pheasants often are segregated -- small groups of males, larger flocks of females.
Conservation status Intensively managed as a game bird in most areas where it occurs in North America. Some populations here probably not self-sustaining, but are maintained by releases of game-farm birds.
Family Pheasants and Grouse
Habitat Farms, fields, marsh edges, brush. May live in any semi-open habitat. Sometimes in open grassland but more often in brushy meadows, woodland edges, hedgerows, farmland with mixed crops. Access to water may be important; pheasants are often common around edges of marshes, and are rarely found in very arid places.
Most kinds of pheasants are shy forest birds of Asia. The Ring-neck, better adapted to open country, has been introduced as a game bird to several parts of the world, including North America. Here it thrives in some areas, such as the northern prairies, where the iridescent colors and rich crowing calls of the males add much to the landscape. Winter flocks of these pheasants often are segregated -- small groups of males, larger flocks of females.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • adult male
  • adult male hybrid with Green Pheasant
Feeding Behavior

Typically feeds on ground, sometimes in trees. On ground, scratches with feet or digs with bill to uncover food.


Eggs

Usually 10-12, sometimes 6-15 or more. Plain olive-buff, rarely pale blue. Females sometimes lay eggs in each others' nests or in those of other birds; clutches of more than about 18 probably result from two or more females. Incubation is by female only, 23-28 days. Young: Downy young leave nest with female shortly after hatching; mostly feed themselves. Male may rarely accompany female and brood. Young capable of short flights at about 12 days, but stay with female for 10-12 weeks.


Young

Downy young leave nest with female shortly after hatching; mostly feed themselves. Male may rarely accompany female and brood. Young capable of short flights at about 12 days, but stay with female for 10-12 weeks.

Diet

Omnivorous. Diet varies with season and place. Feeds on wide variety of grains and smaller seeds, fresh green shoots, buds, roots, berries, insects, spiders, earthworms, snails; rarely eats lizards, snakes, frogs, rodents. Diet may include more seeds in winter, more insects in summer.


Nesting

Male defends territory by taking raised perch, giving crowing call while briefly drumming with wings. One male may have several mates, the females associating with each other in a small flock on his territory. In courtship, male struts in half-circle around female with back and tail feathers tilted toward her, near wing drooping, face wattles swollen. Nest site is on ground in dense cover. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression lined with grass, leaves, weeds.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Apparently a permanent resident everywhere, both on native range and where introduced.

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Migration

Apparently a permanent resident everywhere, both on native range and where introduced.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Loud crowing caw-cawk! followed by a resonant beating of the wings. When alarmed flies off with a loud cackle.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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