Ring-necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus

Ring-necked PheasantThis bird was imported from China to the United States in 1881. It was first brought to Minnesota in 1916. The ring-necked pheasant is one of Minnesota's most popular upland game birds. It's commonly seen in rural areas near grassy fields and grain crops, such as corn. Pheasants eat insects, weed seeds and grain and can survive extreme weather, from near-drought in summers to winter blizzards.

Identification

General description: The ring-necked pheasant is a chicken-like bird with a long tail found mainly in the agricultural lands of rural America.

Length: 20 to 36 inches, including the tail.

Weight: 2 to 3 pounds.

Color: Males (called cocks or roosters) have mostly reddish-orange body feathers, greenish black heads with a red eye patch and white neck rings. They also have a sharp spur on each leg. Females are mottled brown.

Sound: Ring-necked pheasant roosters crow loudly in spring and often cackle when they fly.

Reproduction

Pheasants mate from April through May. Hens lay an average of 12 eggs, which hatch in 23 to 25 days. After only one week, the young pheasants are covered in feathers and are able to feed themselves and fly. They don't leave their mother for at least 10 weeks.

Food

Pheasants eat insects, weed seeds, corn, soybeans and other crops.

Predators

Fox, coyote, owls and hawks. Raccoons and skunks eat pheasant eggs.

Range MapHabitat and range

Pheasants live in grasslands and cattail marshes near grain fields. Pheasants are typically found in central and southern Minnesota. Pheasants do not migrate.

Population and management

Keeping a stable pheasant population is difficult in Minnesota. There aren't enough grasslands for the birds to nest in and not enough cattail marshes where they can hide from cold winter weather. Pheasant die-offs are common during extreme winters. Each year, Minnesota hunters harvest 350,000 pheasants.

Fun facts

To avoid danger, ring-necked pheasant often run rather than fly. Pheasants are frequently seen along gravel roads eating small pebbles (called grit), which help the birds digest food.