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Common Pheasant Information, Photos, and Facts

The Common Pheasant is a colorful and compelling immigrant to North America that has become one of the most popular game birds on the continent.

Originally a native of Asia, the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) was first introduced to the United States in 1857. Since then, the species has achieved well-established populations in the Midwest, the Great Plains, and parts of the Western mountain states. American Expedition is proud to present information, facts, and photos of the Common Pleasant.


Common Pheasant Information

Common Pheasants, also known as Ring-Necked Pheasants, are renowned for the striking plumage of the male. Male pheasants, known as cocks, have brightly colored red masks on their face, which are surrounded by iridescent green feathers on their head. They have a white ring on their neck, with a maroon breast and long golden brown tair feathers with dark brown bars. Females, known as hens, are light tan and brown, without the bright colors in their plumage which are unique to the male. The lack of coloration helps the female pheasants to be better camouflaged from predators.

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Pheasants measure approximately 21 to 34 inches in length, and have a wingspan of 28 to 34 inches. An average-sized adult weighs roughly 2 to 3 pounds. Pheasants prefer to walk or run on the ground, and can do this at speeds of up to 10 miles an hour. However when they are startled, they will burst upwards from their cover, flying away at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

In March, the male pheasants claim territory and establish harems of female pheasants for the purposes of mating. A harem can contain as many as a dozen hens. Pheasant cocks will aggressively defend their harems from rivals. The hens will build nests in grass and other low vegetation at the end of hedgerows, and will then mate with the male. Mating season occurs between April and May. A pheasant hen will lay anywhere from 6 to 18 eggs at a time, and incubate the eggs for around 23 days. After hatching, the chicks are able to walk around and find food themselves. The young can to fly within 2 weeks, and will typically leave the group right after molting their juvenile feathers at the age of 7 weeks. Typically hens will produce one brood per year, however if their first nest is disrupted, they will produce a smaller second nest.

Common Pheasant Facts

  • The tail of the common pheasant can account for half its total length.
  • Pheasants prefer to run when they sense trouble. However when startled, they can burst upwards from their cover, flying away at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
  • Pheasants will make harsh croaking sounds when they sense danger.
  • Pheasants do not have sweat glands. They will pant like dogs in order to eliminate excess body heat.
  • During periods of bad weather, pheasants can stay in their roost for several days without eating.
  • Pheasants have very powerful leg muscles.
  • The pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota.
  • The pheasant has an average lifespan in the wild of 1 to 2 years.
  • Pheasants do not migrate.
  • The eggs of a pheasant are olive-brown in color.
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  • There are 35 species of pheasant.

Common Pheasant Habitat

Pheasants prefer to inhabit farmland or prairies with areas of woods and ground cover for protection. They like to occupy tall grasses or weeds, especially when nesting. Pheasants build their nests on the ground, but they roost on the branches of trees at night. They are omnivorous ground feeders, eating grain, leaves, insects, worms, wild fruit, and nuts.

Tips For Hunting Pheasants

  • Pheasants mostly feed at dawn and dusk.
  • Pheasants prefer to live near soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter where they can find seeds and worms.
  • After a snowfall is a great time to hunt pheasants, when their bright colors will stand out against the fresh powder.
  • The habits of pheasants will change with the seasons: in spring, groups of birds can be found in open habitats, while in winter they will congregate at the edges of fields.
  • Collect the dates of pheasant season.
  • Hunting off-season is illegal and can result in a fine, the suspension or loss of equipment, or even jail time.
  • Check your state laws to find what permits you need to have in order to hunt pheasant. Most states require you to at least have a small game permit. Along with this, you must also have a hunting license. It is illegal to hunt without these.
  • Check the bag limit (amount of birds you are allowed to harvest in a day).
  • Don’t forget a shotgun and shells!
  • A trained dog will increase your odds of shooting pheasants.
  • Use either a “flushing” dog or a “pointing” dog. A flushing dog will walk through the field and startle the birds for you; a pointer will stand back and point to the area the birds are occupying.
Hunter taking aim at a common pheasant.

Pheasants prefer to run when they sense danger, but if startled can fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Common pheasant staring at a viewer.

The distinctive markings of the male pheasant have helped make it one of the most popular game birds in North America.

A common pheasant walking in snow.

After a snow is a great time to hunt pheasants, when their bright colors will stand out against the fresh powder.

A common pheasant with its tail in the air

The tail of the ring necked pheasant can account for half its total length.

A common pheasant on green grass.

Pheasants mostly feed at dawn and dusk.

An up close view of a common pheasant.

Pheasants prefer to live near soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter where they can find seeds and worms.

A pheasant in straw.

Pheasants often take up residence in agricultural areas where there are plentiful seeds and rich soil that supports worms and insects.

Common pheasant walking in the snow.

The habits of pheasants will change with the seasons: in spring, groups of birds can be found in open habitats, while in winter they will congregate at the edges of fields.

Common Pheasant Information, Facts, Photos, and Facts

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