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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Ring-necked Pheasant -- Phasianus colchicus

RANGE: Introduced and established widely in North America, from southern British Columbia and central Alberta to northern Minnesota, southwestern Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia south, at least locally, to southern interior California, Utah, northern and southeastern Texas, southern Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Native to Asia.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits cultivated farmland interspersed with patches of brush or woodlots, especially areas with field border cover. Also inhabits fallow fields, brushy pastures, roadside hedgerows, cutover land, marshes, and meadows. Roosts mostly on the ground in weedy ditches, marshes, cattail swales, weed-grown fence rows, brush heaps, briar patches, and small farm-woodlots. In winter, needs protective cover such as marshes, thickets, shelterbelts, and heavy brush in ravines, along fencerows, and railroad right-of-ways, and an adequate supply of food.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Agricultural land interspersed with dense protective cover.

NEST: Nests on the ground in a scratched-out depression, preferably among plants that make maximum growth during spring, such as alfalfa or coolseason grasses. Locates nest in fields of alfalfa, sweet clover, winter wheat, or other grasses or grains; along roadsides, fencerows, and hedgerows; or in brushy pastures or wetlands.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on plant foods, especially waste grains, but also on seeds of weeds and grasses, acorns, buds and soft parts of herbaceous vegetation, fleshy fruits, insects, snakes, and mice.

REFERENCES: Baxter and Wolfe 1973, Dale 1956, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1975a, Ratti in Farrand 1983a, Terres 1980.

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