Ring-necked Pheasant
Description  30 - 36"  Large,
dramatic bird, reaching nearly 3
feet, 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.

The female pheasant is drab
and mottled sandy brown, with a
shorter tail.

Habitat  Ring-necked
Pheasants are found along
edges of open fields, farmlands,
pastures, and grassy woodland
edges.

Diet  Ring-necked Pheasants
are omnivores with diet varying
by season. In winter, they eat
mostly seeds, grains, roots, and
berries, while in the summer
they take advantage of insects,
fresh green shoots, spiders,
earthworms, and snails.

Breeding hens and young
chicks eat a greater proportion
of animal matter than the rest of
the population.

Nesting  Males (also known
as "cocks") establish harems of
hens—as many as a dozen
female birds. Each spring a
male delineates and defends
his territory and his harem from
aggressive rivals. Such
encounters can lead to vicious
battles.

Females nest in fields or in
border habitat and lay 6-15 buff-
olive eggs in a grass-lined
depression concealed in dense
grass or weeds. While laying
eggs, females eat large
quantities of high-calcium snail
shells.

Young pheasants grow up
quickly and can fly within two
weeks. They will remain with
their mother for six or seven
weeks. At first the chicks feed
largely on insects but soon shift
to the adult diet of berries,
seeds, buds, and leaves.

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

Permanent resident. Ring-
necked Pheasants in good
habitat may spend their entire
life in an area less than 700
acres in size.

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

Discussion  Ring-necked
pheasants are native to China
and East Asia, but they have
been successfully introduced in
other parts of the world,
including North America.

In autumn, ring-necked
pheasants form flocks in which
they will live until the following
spring.  After the breakup of
winter flocks, males establish
large territories and mate with
several females.

They can fly and launch
themselves airborne with an
abrupt, noisy takeoff, but typically
run from trouble. Pheasant
flights are merely short-distance
dashes for cover.  Average
lifespan in the wild is about 10
to 20 months.
I hear the pheasant throughout the
day, on the hillsides all around me,
squawking up a storm.  But, getting
a good picture of one of them, is a
whole other story!  
February 2001
December 2005
December 2005
The State Bird of South Dakota
January 2009