Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasant


Introduced to the United States from Asia for sport hunting. Now found throughout most of the western, midwestern and central United States up to southern Canada and down northern Baja California.


Open grasslands; mostly on cultivated farmlands of North America.


Sexes outwardly different, but both have stout, yellowish, chicken-like bill and short rounded wings. Adult males head and neck are green-blue to purple separate from rest of body by a conspicuous white collar. Bare patches of bright red skin are found on the cheeks and around the eyes. Iridescent feathers along sides of head are long and form an erectile double crest. They can raise the feathers on the sides of their head to aid in hearing. Upper parts of body are a rich bronze and reddish brown with brown, black and white markings. Females are mottled brown without white neck ring and bright colors of males.

Ring-necked Pheasant

They roost in trees or on the ground in weedy ditches and can often be seen dust bathing in cornfields, bare spots in pastures and along dirt roads. They are swift fliers when flushed, males rise with a loud, whir of wings and in flight utters hoarse croaks. In areas where hunted, males may run swiftly under cover of grass or weeds instead of flying. Families join with others to form flocks of up to 40 birds. The flocks break and scatter in the spring for mating and raising young.


In February and March the males attract females by announcing themselves in an open area by calling KOCK-cack, KOCK-cack, followed by a loud clapping of the wings. When a female appears, the male will begin courting by strutting before her raising the feathers of the ear tufts on the sides of his head. The bare skin around the eyes become engorged and brilliant red. An established male will mate with up to four hens which will make nests sites within the male\\\\\\\'s crowing area. The female will lay 10-12 dark green buff to olive-brown eggs that will be incubated 23-25 days. The chicks are generally attended to by female alone for the first 35-42 days after which the male can often be found with the brood and hen. Chicks are able to fly 4-5 feet when only 7 days old.

Interesting Facts:

Remarkably short-lived in the wild. Average lifespan for males being 10 months and females 20 months. In captivity these birds can live 6-8 years. These pheasants range natively in Asia from Caspian sea east to Manchuria, south China and Japan. They were introduced into the US in the 1800s and are now dominant in North America. They have become one of the most popular game birds. There are no native North American pheasant species.

Ring-necked Pheasant
Ring-necked Pheasant
Class: birds
Genus: Phasianus
Species: colchicus
Length: Males: 32-36 inches, tail: 21 inches; females: 21-25 inches, tail: 11-12 inches
Weight: Males: 2.7 pounds; females: 2.1 pounds.
Average Lifespan: 4
Wild Diet: Mostly plant foods, largely waste corn, wheat, barley, oats, and buckwheat. Also weed seeds, worms, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and snails.
Predators: Carnivores, raptors, man
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Discoveryland: Desert Canyon

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