General Information about the Ring-Necked Pheasant

ring necked pheasantThe ring-necked pheasant is a ground-dwelling, gallinaceous (chicken-like) bird of Asia first introduced into the United States prior to the 1800s. By the 1880s, wild ring-necked pheasants had become established in sustainable breeding populations within the United States and have remained one of the most popular and sought after upland game birds in central and northern regions of the country. The ring-neck’s exceptional quality as table fare, coupled with its high resistance to parasites and diseases common in ground-feeding birds, makes this colorful game bird both highly desirable and very manageable. Also characteristic of the ring-neck is its ability to share similar niches with many native grassland and farmland community wildlife species. One exception has been its interaction with native prairie chickens – pheasant males can disrupt prairie chicken leks and hens may lay eggs in prairie chicken nests. Consequently, efforts to repatriate prairie chickens in some areas may require prior removal of pheasants.

The ring-neck is highly dependent on habitats in and around croplands and agricultural landscapes. Significant changes in farming practices within the last half of the twentieth century have had detrimental effects on ring-necked pheasant populations. Removal of overgrown hedgerows and fence rows from agricultural fields and other “clean farming” practices and the conversion of open, native grass-lands and other idle habitat to introduced grasses and developed lands have contributed to a loss of nesting and protective cover resulting in population declines. The greater use of agri-chemicals, in-creased grazing pressure, intensive fire control, and the spraying and mowing of highway and utility rights-of-way have contributed to reducing ring-neck populations as well. However, intensive habitat management and conservation programs that improve pheasant habitat like the USDA Conservation Reserve Program have greatly improved pheasant populations in many areas in recent years. Continued efforts to increase pheasant populations on private lands may help to secure a stable future for this valued game bird.

 

For more information please read Pheasant's in Oregon or Pheasant's Life Cycle.