Pheasant Facts

IDENTIFICATION

Male ring-necks feature a white ring around their neck with body plumage of gold, brown, green, purple, and white. A rooster's head has plumage of blue and green with a distinctive red wattle. Females are much less showy with drab brown feathers.

While pheasants prefer to run and hide in cover, they can fly up to 60 mph. Photo by PF Life Member Craig Armstrong

ECOLOGY

Pheasants are birds that can be found alone or in small flocks. Typically, a mother hen and her brood will stay together until early autumn. While pheasants are able to fly fast for short distances, they prefer to run. If startled however, they will burst to the sky in a "flush." Their flight speed is 38 to 48 mph when cruising but when chased they can fly up to 60 mph.
 
Pheasants spend almost their entire life on the ground, rarely ever being seen in trees. They eat a wide variety of foods including, insects, seeds, and leaves.
 
Roosters typically have a harem of several females during spring mating season. Hen pheasants nest on the ground, producing a clutch of around twelve eggs over a two to three week period in April to June. The incubation period is about 23 days.

Pheasant chicks may start hatching in May, but mid-June is usually the peak of the hatch.

PHEASANT FACTS

  • Weight: Male ring-necked pheasants (roosters) average 2 to 3 pounds while their female (hen) counterparts average 2 pounds.
  • Length: Males measure 24 to 35 inches long (a rooster's tail accounts for more than 20 inches of length); hens are smaller with a much shorter tail.
  • Flight Speed: 38-48 mph (but can reach up to 60 mph when chased)
  • Favorite Foods: Corn, seeds, insects
  • Preferred Habitat: Undisturbed grass
  • Average Nest Initiation: Early May
  • Average Incubation Start: Late May
  • Length of Incubation: 23 days
  • Average First Hatch: Mid-June
  • Average Clutch Size: 12 eggs
  • Average Nest Success: 40-60%
  • Average Hen Success: 50-70%
  • Average Rate of Chick Survival: 50%
  • Major Nest Predators: Fox, raccoon, skunk, feral cats
  • Major Adult Predators: Human, fox, hawk, owl

SURVIVAL

Rarely, if ever, does a pheasant die of old age. In fact, the average life span is less than 1 year. The pheasant is a prey species and must face major sources of mortality beginning the day it is laid in the nest as an egg.
 
  • Survival Rate - Mild winter, good habitat: 95%
  • Survival Rate - Severe winter, good habitat: 50%
  • Survival Rate - Mild winter, poor habitat: 80%
  • Survival Rate - Severe winter, poor habitat: 20%