Common pheasant

One of the most hunted, widespread, ancient, and well-known game birds

Charles J. Sharp

A bird that has been so widely introduced and naturalized around the world that its origins in Asia are often overlooked. Its adaptability and ease of breeding in captivity have made it a staple on game farms and a common target for hunters seeking game birds.

Sporting a variety of colors and patterns, the male common pheasant is particularly striking, with its iridescent copper and gold plumage and long tail. Females, or hens, are mottled with paler brown and are much less conspicuous, which provides them with the camouflage necessary for nesting and protecting their young. This sexual dimorphism is typical of many bird species where the male is more vibrantly colored to attract a mate.

The common pheasant is primarily a ground bird, preferring open fields and the edges of wooded areas where they can forage for a diet that includes grains, seeds, fruits, insects, and small animals. They are known for their “long tail,” which is used in courtship displays and also as a rudder during their short, rapid flights.

Nesting behavior in common pheasants involves the female scraping a shallow depression in the ground, often in the cover of tall grass or brush, where she lays and incubates her eggs. The species is also known for nest parasitism, wherein a female may lay her eggs in the nests of other pheasants or even different bird species, leading to interspecies competition.

While the species is widespread and not currently considered endangered, the common pheasant’s population has faced significant declines in some regions over the past 30 years, particularly in agricultural areas. Modern farming practices have altered their habitats significantly; for instance, the replacement of barley, a crop beneficial to pheasants, with more lucrative options like nut trees, has reduced the availability of food and nesting habitat.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2016
Albania
2016
Introduced
Andorra
2016
Introduced
Armenia
2016
Australia
2016
Introduced
Austria
2016
Introduced
Azerbaijan
2016
Bahamas
2016
Introduced
Belarus
2016
Introduced
Belgium
2016
Introduced
Bosnia And Herz.
2016
Introduced
Bulgaria
2016
Introduced
Canada
2016
Introduced
China
2016
Croatia
2016
Introduced
Cuba
2016
Introduced
Czechia
2016
Introduced
Denmark
2016
Introduced
Finland
2016
Introduced
France
2016
Introduced
Georgia
2016
Germany
2016
Introduced
Greece
2016
Introduced
Hungary
2016
Introduced
Iran
2016
Ireland
2016
Introduced
Italy
2016
Introduced
Kazakhstan
2016
Korea
2016
Kyrgyzstan
2016
Laos
2016
Latvia
2016
Introduced
Liechtenstein
2016
Introduced
Lithuania
2016
Introduced
Luxembourg
2016
Introduced
Mexico
2016
Presence Uncertain, Introduced
Moldova
2016
Introduced
Mongolia
2016
Montenegro
2016
Introduced
Morocco
2016
Introduced
Myanmar
2016
Netherlands
2016
Introduced
New Zealand
2016
Introduced
North Korea
2016
North Macedonia
2016
Introduced
Norway
2016
Introduced
Poland
2016
Introduced
Portugal
2016
Introduced
Puerto Rico
2016
Presence Uncertain, Introduced
Romania
2016
Introduced
Russia
2016
Eastern Asian Russia
Russia
2016
Introduced: European Russia
Saint Helena
2016
Introduced
Serbia
2016
Introduced
Slovakia
2016
Introduced
Slovenia
2016
Introduced
Spain
2016
Introduced
Sweden
2016
Introduced
Switzerland
2016
Introduced
Taiwan
2016
Tajikistan
2016
Turkey
2016
Introduced
Turkmenistan
2016
Ukraine
2016
Introduced
United Kingdom
2016
Introduced
United States
2016
Introduced: Hawaiian Is.
Uzbekistan
2016
Vietnam
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No