Bird GuidePheasants and GrouseRing-necked Pheasant

At a Glance

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.
Pheasants and Grouse, Upland Ground Birds
Low Concern
Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Saltwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Urban and Suburban Habitats
California, Eastern Canada, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Flushes, Rapid Wingbeats, Running

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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


30-36" (76-91 cm). Male unmistakable, colorful with long tail, white neck ring. Mottled brown female known by size, long tail, pale belly; see prairie grouse. "Green Pheasant", sometimes considered a separate species, found locally on east coast; both sexes are darker, and males lack white neck ring.
About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull, About the size of a Heron
Brown, Green, Red, Tan, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Broad, Fingered
Tail Shape
Long, Pointed

Songs and Calls

Loud crowing caw-cawk! followed by a resonant beating of the wings. When alarmed flies off with a loud cackle.
Call Pattern
Call Type
Drum, Raucous, Scream


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.



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.


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.

Feeding Behavior

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


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

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.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Ring-necked Pheasant. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Ring-necked Pheasant

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.