Phasianus colchicus, better known as the ring-necked pheasant, are dependent on two major habitats; agricultural landscapes and grasslands. The ring-necked pheasant has adapted in many ways in order to strive in these environments. Physical adaptations in the pheasants include their size and color. The average male pheasant (cock) weighs 2 ½ to 3 ½ pounds (female 2 to 3 pounds) which allows it to dissuade predators and capture small prey to consume. Additionally, with their brown and white feather coat, the marshes and low lying grasses provide excellent cover for the females and young offspring. However, the male pheasants look surprisingly different. As described by Chris Dorsey in his book, “Pheasant Days”, the cock looks like a chicken would if you were to dip the bird in a box of melted crayons (Dorsey, 1992). The cock has bright blue-green feathers with red patches on its face which ends with a white ring around its neck, hence, the ring-necked pheasant. The pheasant cock struts his colors proudly for all to see but most importantly to attract the female pheasants.
     During the late fall and winter months, most ring-necked pheasants do not migrate south for warmer weather, instead, the females gather in large groups while the males congregate in small groups or live alone. As social birds, each flock stays together to find food, seek shelter from the weather, and keep many eyes out for danger. Together, the birds seek shrubby, dense areas or sometimes even trees to roost in. Thick cover is essential for the survival of the pheasant. Many pheasant populations have declined rapidly in response to habitat loss from urbanization and changed agricultural products (Smith et al. 1997) as well as vegetation removal by farmers (Frey et al. 2003). Pheasants use the sides of agricultural fields to raise young, seek shelter, and avoid predation; without that cover, the pheasants cannot survive.
   Movement adaptations are most likely the most important adaptation for the ring-necked pheasant. Pheasants use their ability to move to avoid predation, seek shelter, and scrounge the ground for food. The ring-necked pheasant spends most of its time on the ground, scratching for food with its feet or beak. However, the pheasant is an extremely, strong flier; when startled, the pheasant takes off from its cover at almost a vertical shot. This flush (take off flight) makes hunting this game bird a frightful delight. For the pheasant, however, it makes a swift attempt of escaping the predator. This spectacular flush is only possible with the specially designed wings the pheasant possess. The ring-necked pheasant has short, fat wings which allow them to use a lot of upward thrust to pull themselves off the ground quickly. In addition, the specialized wings also aid in steering the pheasant efficiently around obstacles. However, the pheasant wings are not meant for long distance flight but only for fleeing from predators (Project BEAK 2013). Another way the pheasant avoids predation is with its exceptionally fast running speed on the ground. Each escape pattern guides the bird with intentions to finding the safest, most dense area in which they can hide from predators.
    Lastly, the ring-necked pheasant has adapted competition strategies within their own species. As with any species, reproductive success is mandatory in order to keep beneficial traits, therefore, pheasant males (cocks) compete with each other in order to win over a certain territory where females are present. To establish a breeding territory, cocks compete by flying at each other, wing-flapping, biting and kicking at each other (Animal Diversity Web, 2013). The winner of the fight then defends and reproduces with females within the won territory.


Everyone likes babies! Click reproduction to see the newly hatched chicks!



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