Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Common Pheasant

Male Common Pheasant
Though the Common (or Ring-Necked) Pheasant is the State Bird of South Dakota, it is not actually native to North America. Common Pheasants actually originated in Asia, and have been introduced all over the world. Pheasants were brought to the British Isles as long ago as 1,000 CE, and have been in the United States since the 1850s.

There are actually over 30 different subspecies of Common Pheasant, divided geographically. They are, as a species, the most common Pheasant on earth. Even though they are quite abundant, wild populations are sometimes supplemented with captive bred birds for hunting purposes.

Because they are a common, introduced species, Common Pheasants can be found in all sorts of habitats. In their native lands they are most often seen in open grasslands and agricultural areas. They are omnivorous, eating plants, seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects.

Common Pheasants are very sexually dimorphic. The males have much longer, more colorful plumage. They have green necks, red cheeks, and bold, barred patterns. Females in comparison, are a very drab, mottled light brown. The males' feathers play a part in their mating habits. They use them to attract harems of females that can number up to 18 birds. They guard their females fiercely, but only until they start incubating their eggs. At that point the males abandon the females, who are left to incubate alone. Luckily the mom won't be busy for too long, the chicks are precocial and can begin making short flights after only two weeks!

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Originally from Asia
Size : Length 35in (90cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Galliformes
Family : Phasianidae -- Genus : Phasianus -- Species : P. colchicus

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