The pheasant comprises a large group of birds in the Phasianidae family. Its closest relatives are the partridge, quail, grouse, turkey, and more. Within the family, these birds make up the entire subfamily Phasianidae.
Researchers recognize at least 39 different species of these birds, including the common pheasant, golden pheasant, argus, and more. Read on to learn about pheasant.
Description of the pheasant
Many species of these birds are brightly colored, with iridescent plumage or feathers. Their coloration ranges from gray, brown, tan, white and black, to red, yellow, green, blue, and more. Males tend to have brighter colors than females.
Most of these birds are relatively large and have long tails. They are typically one to three feet long, including the tail, and weigh between one and five pounds.
Interesting facts about the pheasant
There are so many different species of these birds that it is difficult to choose just a few unique traits. Find out more about some specific species and what makes them unique below.
Common Pheasant: The common pheasant is, well, common. They live in much of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America and Eurasia. However, its natural range is much less. The commons actually come from various regions of Asia. Humans introduced them to North America and Europe in order to hunt them.
Green pheasant: this species is a close relative of the common one. They are so named because the males have iridescent green feathers on their bodies. This striking bird has a bright red face and is easily recognizable. Green is the national bird of Japan.
Lady Amherst’s Pheasant – As these birds progress, Lady Amherst’s has a unique color. Males have black and white striped feathers that fall from their heads and down their tails. They also have bright bluish-green feathers on their bodies and wings, a yellow “saddle spot” on their tail, and splashes of red here and there.
Crested Fire Back: The crested fireback has a column of dark feathers that grow from the top of its bright blue head. The feathers on its back, directly on its tail, are dark red. Combined with its yellowtail, this coloration gives this species the appearance that its back is on fire.
This group of birds lives in a variety of different habitats. Different species have different habitat preferences, with some pheasants inhabiting only a few types of habitats, while others live in almost all of them.
Some of the different ecosystems they occupy include rainforests, scrublands, grasslands, mountainous regions, forest edges, woodlands, and more. Depending on the species, some also live in more urban areas, such as farms, pastures, and agricultural areas.
Each pheasant has its own unique distribution. Some live in an incredibly wide range, while others only inhabit a small region. Others originally lived in a smaller area, but humans introduced them to different places.
Most of these birds are naturally distributed across various parts of Asia, but humans have spread different species to North America, Europe, Australia, and more. Some people also keep certain species on farms or zoos.
Most pheasants are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. However, the diet of each species varies slightly. Some species eat mostly seeds and fruits, while others feed more on insects and invertebrates.
Some of the different parts of the plants they eat include berries, seeds, nuts, fruits, roots, bulbs, grains, sprouts, and more. They also hunt many different types of insects and invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, spiders, worms, insect larvae, snails, caterpillars, and more.
Human and pheasant interaction
Although human impact and interaction vary from species to species, many of these birds are popular game birds. This means that people like to hunt them for their meat and feathers. In fact, this is the reason that people introduced various species around the world.
In their natural ranges, people have led some pheasants to potential extinction. Threats posed by people generally include habitat destruction, hunting, and egg collection.
You may consider that some species of these birds are semi-domesticated. People grow and breed various species, and the common species is particularly popular for this purpose. Farm-raised birds come in a variety of different colors.
Does the pheasant make a good pet?
Some pheasants make good pets, but only for the right kind of home. If you live on a farm, you could have one as a pet if you want. However, it is important to know that only some species are legal to own as pets, and game birds are only legal to keep in certain areas.
In zoos and farms, these birds need large enclosures with secure fences to protect them from predators. They mainly walk on the ground, but they can fly, so their enclosures should provide space for them to fly safely if they are scared.
Pheasants do particularly well in aviary-style enclosures with plenty of space and bushes to hide in. Zoo keepers and farmers vary their diet by species, but most of these birds eat a combination of seeds, insects, and granulated insectivorous feed.
The behavior of the pheasant
Each species has different social behavior. Many live in flocks, some of which contain a large number of birds, while others only a few or a couple. Like other members of the Phasianidae family,
Pheasants spend most of their time walking on the ground. They can fly, but prefer to feed on the ground in meadows and under low bushes. Most species are diurnal or active during the day.
Breeding rates vary from species to species. The breeding strategy also varies, some pheasants reproduce with multiple pairs, in some species the males form harems and some form seasonal pairs.
Females lay different numbers of eggs per clutch, with some laying just a handful, while others lay dozens of eggs. Eggs typically take three to four weeks to hatch. After a month or two, the young pheasants achieve independence.