Pheasant a large long-tailed game bird.
There are about 50 species of pheasant.
Their native range is restricted to Asia.
Several species have been naturalized elsewhere—two thousand years ago or so in Anatolia and Europe — and many are prized as ornamentals in zoos and private collections; they are also raised for sport in shooting preserves.
The best-known is the common pheasant, which is widespread throughout the world, it is one of the world’s most hunted birds. Various other pheasant species are popular in aviaries, such as the golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus).
Pheasant habitat would include a combination of grasslands, idle fields, wetlands, croplands, haylands, and shrublands.
The lifespan of a pheasant is about 1-3 years in the wild and up to 18 years in captivity.
Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly decorated with bright colors and adornments such as wattles.
The adult male common pheasant is 60–90 cm (24–35 in) in length with a long brown streaked black tail, accounting for almost 50 cm (20 in) of the total length.
The female (hen) is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage all over and measuring 50–63 cm (20–25 in) long including a tail of around 20 cm (7.9 in).
There are many color forms of the male common pheasant, ranging in color from nearly white to almost black in some melanistic examples.
While common pheasants are able short-distance fliers, they prefer to run. If startled however, they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive “whirring” wing sound and often giving kok kok kok calls to alert conspecifics. Their flight speed is up to 60 km/h (37 mph) when cruising but when chased they can fly up to 90 km/h (56 mph).
When startled, common pheasants rise almost vertically with a loud whirring of wings.
Pheasants are diurnal (active during the day).
They are omnivores with diet varying by season. Pheasants eat a wide variety of animal and vegetable type-food, like fruit, seeds, grain, mast, berries and leaves as well as a wide range of invertebrates, such as leatherjackets, ant eggs, wireworms, caterpillars, grasshoppers and other insects; with small vertebrates like lizards, field voles, small mammals, and small birds occasionally taken.
Common pheasants are social birds. In the autumn, they flock together, sometimes in large groups in areas with food and cover. Usually the core home range is smaller in the winter than during the nesting season. Flocks formed in the winter may have up to 50 pheasants.
Common pheasants are polygynous, with a single male having a harem of several females. Common pheasants breed seasonally. They produce a clutch of around 8-15 eggs; they are pale olive in color, and laid over a 2–3 week period in April to June. The incubation period is about 22–27 days. The chicks stay near the hen for several weeks, yet leave the nest when only a few hours old. After hatching they grow quickly, flying after 12–14 days, resembling adults by only 15 weeks of age.
Pheasants have a number of natural predators in the wild, although the human tends to be the most common predator of the pheasant as they are hunted for their meat and feathers.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “pheasant” ultimately comes from Phasis, the ancient name of what is now called the Rioni River in Georgia. It passed from Greek to Latin to French (spelled with an initial “f”) then to English, appearing for the first time in English around the year 1299.
In the US, common pheasants are widely known as “ring-necked pheasants”. More colloquial North American names include “chinks” or, in Montana, “phezzens”.