Ring-necked Pheasant

Pheasant, California

Pheasant, California

Phasianus colchicus, also known as the common pheasant, is native to Asia, and was introduced in North America in the 1880s.


Due to their adaptability to many climates, and ability to breed in captivity, this well-known and widespread game bird can now be found across the globe. Between hybridization and captive breeding, there are about 30 subspecies.


Ring-necked pheasant, Mongolian subspecies; courtesy Wikipedia

The basis for this bird’s successful proliferation is its game bird status.   Since stone age times, and the Roman Empire too, this bird has been a popular game bird for hunters, for sport and food, then and now.


As a birder, I can never get enough of this exotic bird, and search earnestly for their presence when birding in marshes.  The showy male has a white neck ring and numerous colors, spotted patterns, a bright red wattle, and a long, streaked tail.  Gold, brown, green, purple, white, and red adorn the male; while the female has gold and brown with elaborately patterned markings.


They forage in fields on grain and seeds, and have an expansive diet including fruit, berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates.  More pheasant info here.


Courtesy Wikipedia

In spite of their kaleidoscopic  colors, pheasant are skillful at hiding in the tall grass.  It is common to hear their call and lifting wings as they move further out of photographic range.  Click here for what we hear.


I also get a thrill out of hearing their cackling call on television shows.  It is frequently used as a general wildlife background sound byte in fictional British mysteries and other movies.  Sound engineers use it to evoke a frightening, mysterious presence.


Whether I am birding in the marshes, or watching British mysteries, two much-enjoyed activities, I am delightfully hosted by this elegant bird.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander unless noted otherwise

45 thoughts on “Ring-necked Pheasant

  1. I had no idea this bird is not native to North America, wow. Growing up in Michigan, they are common up there but hard to spot, very sneaky birds. Love them!! ❤️

    • You’re right, John, they are hard to spot, and nearly impossible to photograph, at least in the wild. They are skittish birds, especially where they are hunted. I love them too. Thanks so much for your great comment. 😀

  2. When I lived in Chester County, Pa….we had pheasant running wild around us along with all sorts of other beautiful birds and wildlife. I could never get enough of them…..and of course we do have them in the UK….where they are enjoyed enormously. Have a fantastic weekend. Janet:)

    • When we see one, they are so profoundly beautiful, aren’t they, Janet? I am glad they populate so much of the planet, and how nice for you to see them on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks so much, as always, for your frequent visits and warm comments. You, too, have a wonderful weekend my friend. 😀

  3. This reminded me of the pheasant that are everywhere in Scotland. So I check it out and found an interesting article:
    “When did the history of the pheasant in Britain begin? Phoenician traders, coming from what is now called Lebanon, have been mentioned. The most widely touted and perhaps most plausible theory is that pheasants were imported to these shores – and to France – by Roman officers who bred them for the table
    Read more at http://www.thefield.co.uk/shooting/the-history-of-the-pheasant-22364#9hzpEGI6HU8KD11F.99
    Thank you for always spurring my curiosity Jet!

    • The pheasants are widely distributed across the globe and into the past, and this article is more proof of that. I am delighted to have spurred your curiosity, Val, and appreciate your information and enthusiasm. So much on this earth to ponder, so wonderful. Many thanks! 😀

  4. What a wonderful bird! Many was the time I’d be out hiking the old byways in Britain, and I’d startle a pheasant – they explode upwards and away. My heart would be hammering, every time, but it was always a delight. Thanks, Jet, for bringing back those memories, and have a great weekend!

    • Ah, you describe it perfectly, pc — “they explode upwards and away.” And yes, it can be ever so startling. I am glad you could relate to it, and appreciate your visit today. You have a wonderful weekend too, my friend!

  5. Great and pics as always! It is very disheartening to know that mankind, in this day and age, still derives pleasure in taking the life of another. We must extend our circle of compassion to include all animals and learn to appreciate/respect them for the animals they are.

  6. The one time I got to see one of these was at the Lower Klamath Refuge. Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the blizzard of snow geese and the sandhill cranes dancing around that I barely registered the fact that this wonderful critter had popped out of the brush within range of my camera. Call it birding overload. 😉

    • I LOVE birding overload! I’ve been to that Refuge, and I can easily imagine the bliss of a blizzard of snow geese and s. cranes, and a short and fast moment with a pheasant. So I’m glad I could share this bird with you here, Gunta, and I’m glad you could share your Klamath exper. with me. Cheers! 😀

  7. Such a beauty,dear Jet!The male’s motley plumage is so showy and unique!Incredible range of iridescent colours!The female’s brown-beige colours are not so impressive,but they are beautiful too.Athena’s photo clearly shows the amazing ring around his neck.What a pity it’s a game-bird and food for lavish feasts.It’s difficult though to shoot them (both for photographers and hunters),they are so crafty that they easily outwit the hunters and their dogs.I’m not surprised you so much like this bird.As for its name,there is a lot benind it.It’s Greek,it means bird of the Phasis,Phasis was the ancient name of a river in Georgia and colchicus from Jason,leader of the Argonauts,the heroes who journeyed from Greece to distant Colchis (The Black Sea coast of Georgia ),in quest of the Golden Fleece.You also know him from “Medea”,the ancient tragedy.I’m sure you know both,the famous Argo ship and Medea.Well,a beautiful beautiful bird with a lovely rich name … Happy weekend,my friend 🙂 xxx

  8. Oh these are so funny birds! They would rather run than fly 🙂 See them often, and have a few pictures of them fighting. Love your photographs. It is exactly how they look – colorful and glossy.

  9. Very interesting to hear that their sound is used in British murder mysteries! Behind the green baize door, no doubt…

    • It’s always fun when you know the bird sounds, to hook them up in the movies. The bird sounds are rarely accurately connected with the creature; but I always enjoy knowing what the real sound is. Thank you Nan!

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