Common Pheasant Fact File

Phasianus colchicus

Credit: Public Domain

Weight

0.75-2kg

(1.75-4.5lbs)

Length

89cm

(35in)

Lifespan

Wild 2 years

Captive 11-18 years

Diet

Omnivore

Seed, Grain, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The common pheasant was originally found across Europe and Asia but they have spread to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

Most of these introductions were undertaken to provide birds for hunting. Across their range they have a stable population.

These birds are omnivores. During winter they primarily consume seeds, grains and shoots while during summer they will focus on insects.

Females deposit up to seventeen eggs in to a shallow scrape in the ground where she alone will incubate them. Chicks are able to feed themselves from birth.

Read more about these brilliant birds below.

Appearance

What does the common pheasant look like?

Male and female common pheasants exhibit a marked form of sexual dimorphism. Males are the more spectacular form with a colorful body featuring a dark head which is purple with green gloss. Around the neck is a white ring and the breast is maroon.

On either side of the males face are a pair of red wattles. During the breeding season they will inflate these to impress a male or warn off the rival male.

On the back of the males foot is a small spur used to fight with other males.

Melanistic and albino variants of this species have been recorded.

At the end of the body the male has a long tail. These can reach up to 50cm (20in) long in breeding males.

Their legs are short but end with broad, splayed feet which help them to reach high speeds.

Females are drab by comparison with brown feathers across most of their body. The underside of the female is sandy white. This coloration provides camouflage in their natural habitat.

The eyes are a bright yellow color. Their short bill is whitish or blackish.

An average common pheasant will measure 89cm (35in) long with a weight between 0.75 and 2kg (1.75-4.5lbs). An average wingspan for the species is 80cm (31.5in) across. Males are long and weigh more than the females.

Diet

What does the common pheasant eat?


Common pheasants are omnivores. Their diet is primarily composed of seeds, berries, young shoots and grains with insects occasionally consumed. They become more reliant on insects in summer.

Common pheasant

Credit: Public Domain

Range

Where can you find the common pheasant?

Common pheasants are naturally found in parts of Asia and Europe. Here they can be found in the following countries – Afghanistan; Armenia; Azerbaijan; China; Georgia; Iran; Kazakhstan; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Republic of Korea; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Mongolia; Myanmar; Russia; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

This species has been introduced to a large number of countries – Albania; Andorra; Australia; Austria; Bahamas; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Canada; Croatia; Cuba; Czechia; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom and the United States.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the common pheasant live in?

This species is naturally found in areas of forest and shrubland. They primarily occur in areas of overgrown habitat.

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Reproduction

How does the common pheasant produce its young?

Egg laying takes place between April and June.

Each clutch of eggs can produce between 6 and 15 chicks. The eggs are colored olive-brown. Their nest is a simple scrape on the ground which may be lined with small amounts of plant matter. Eggs are laid at a rate of one per day.

Instances of females laying eggs in the same nest have been recorded.

These eggs are incubated for 23-28 days. This process is solely undertaken by the female.

A single brood is produced each season but pairs will continue to lay until a clutch is successful.

Chicks leave the nest as soon as they dry and can fly short distances after just 12 days. They remain under the care of their mother for the first 10-12 weeks of life. Chicks are mostly self-feeding from birth.

Sexual maturity is reached within their first year of life.

Behavior

What does the common pheasant do with its day?

Common pheasants will roam in groups led by a single male with up to twelve females. During the breeding season males will fiercely defend their territory and their females.

Most of their foraging will take place on the ground but these birds can undertake short flights.

The male will produce a crowing call and both genders produce a harsh ‘kuk-uk, kuk-uk, kuk-uk,’ call.

In flight they average speeds of up to 60kmh (37.2mph). They may fly even faster when being chased.

These birds will take regular dust baths. In this they sweep dust in to their plumage. This assists with removing dead cells, excess oil and old feathers.

Common pheasant

Credit: Public Domain

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the common pheasant?

A range of natural predators threaten the common pheasant. This includes mammals such as the red fox, badgers and coyotes, birds of prey such as hawks and owls and reptiles such as snapping turtles.

Ring-necked pheasants are highly common. The population is estimated to include over 8,000,000 individual birds.

This species is subject to hunting but large numbers are bred for this purpose. Habitat loss and uncontrolled hunting has proven a threat to the survival of certain subspecies.

Their introduction to a number of countries has helped to increase their population.

Quick facts

The white ring-collar of the males has given rise to the name ring-necked pheasant. Other names for this bird include the English pheasant or Chinese pheasant.

A number of subspecies are recognized with each having slight variations in plumage.

Common pheasant

Credit: Public Domain

References

BirdLife International. 2016. Phasianus colchicusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T45100023A85926819. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T45100023A85926819.en. Downloaded on 04 November 2021.

Bouglouan, N., 2021. Common Pheasant. [online] Oiseaux-birds.com. Available at: <http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-common-pheasant.html> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

Animals. 2021. Common Pheasant | National Geographic. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/facts/common-pheasant?loggedin=true> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

Seabrook-Davison, M.N.H. 2013 [updated 2017]. Common pheasant. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Audubon. 2021. Ring-necked Pheasant. [online] Available at: <https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ring-necked-pheasant> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

Switzer, C. 2011. “Phasianus colchicus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Phasianus_colchicus/

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