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cline01 (1K)

Common Pheasant

(Phasianus colchicus)

Kirghiz Pheasant, Andy Maycen

The following page was put together with assistance from Andy Maycen, James Pfarr, & Scott Vowers.

Other Names: Pheasant, Ring-necked Pheasant, Game Pheasant, True Pheasant; see subspecies for others.

Range: Broad range over much of temperate Asia; introduced nearly worldwide including North America, Europe, Chile, Hawaii, Tasmania and New Zealand.

Subspecies: Black-necked Pheasants -
Southern Caucasus Pheasant (P. colchicus colchicus)
Talisch Caucasian Pheasant (P. c. talischensis)
Northern Caucasian Pheasant (P. c. spetentrionalis)
Persian Pheasant (P .c. persicus);
White-winged Pheasants -
Prince of Wales's Pheasant (. c. principalis)
Zarundy's Pheasant (P. c. zarudnyi)
Bianchi's Pheasant (P. c. bianchii), Khivan Pheasant (P. c. chrysomelas)
Zerafshan Pheasant (P. c. zerafschanicus); Kirghiz Pheasants - Kirghiz Pheasant (P. c. mongolicus), Syr Daria Pheasant (P. c. turcestanicus); Tarim Basin Pheasants - Tarim Pheasant (P. c. tarimensis), Yarkland Pheasant (P. c. sahwii); Grey-rumped Pheasants - Kobdo Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. hagenbecki), Manchurian Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. pallasi), Korean Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. karpowi), Shansi Pheasant (P. c. kiangsuensis), Alashan Pheasant (P. c. alaschanicus), Gobi Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. edzinensis), Satchu Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. satscheuensis), Zaidam Pheasant (P. c. vlangalii), Strauch's Pheasant (P. c. strauchi), Sohokhoto Pheasant (P. c. sohokhotensis), Sungpan Pheasant (P. c. suehschanensis), Stone's Pheasant (P. c. elegans), Rothschild's Pheasant (P. c. rothschildi), Kweichow Pheasant (P. c. decollatus), Tonkinese Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. takatsukasae), Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. torquatus), Formosan Ring-necked Pheasant (P. c. formosanus).

Habitat: A wide variety of habitats throughout its natural and introduced range.

Description: (Please Note - Andy Maycen has provided with a number of detailed descriptions of the subspecies currently known to be in captivty; I will be in the process of adding them as time allows.)

Status in Wild: Perhaps the most common of all pheasants. In its introduced range, populations are supplemented annually with captive-bred birds for hunting and in some locations, they are common to abundant. When releases of these "Game" pheasants occur within existing, native ranges, the native race integrates with these birds and has caused such races as bianchii, colchicus and spetentrionalis to diminish in numbers.

Interesting Facts: State Bird of South Dakota. The "wild" population in North America is believed to have originated from initial releases in Oregon and South Dakota in the 1880s.

Avicultural Data

Status in Aviculture: Although millions of Ringneck Pheasants are raised each year, most of these are a mixture of the grey-rumped races and the pure subspecies are very rare in US aviculture. There are only a few breeders in the USA keep and specialize in the distinct, pure subspecies. There are however, a fair number of pure subspecies can be found in aviaries in Europe and Australia.

Breeding Season: Feb-June.

Breeding Age: First year.

Clutch Size: 6 to 12 eggs, but many more can be produced if the eggs are removed. If allowed to do so, the females will hatch their own eggs with the males assisting in the chick rearing.

Incubation Period: 23-26 days.

Misc. Aviculture Notes: The true pheasants, in pure form, are quite a rarity in aviculture, especially in the US. Over the years due to hybridization, pure birds of many of the available subspecies are difficult to locate. Most breeders are unaware of what pure birds of any of the subspecies should look like. Identification of females is very difficult due to many similarities. Many descriptions in literature are too vague to be of any value to the hobbyist.

The true pheasants, as an aviary bird, do best in planted aviaries where their nervous tendencies can be kept to a minimum by providing cover. In a large, well planted aviary, true pheasants can be kept with other pheasant species such as Monals or Tragopans. To prevent possible fertile hybrids, they should be kept with long-tailed pheasants or ruffed pheasants.

There are a number of mutations that have been developed in captivity. I won't go into great detail as they are not of any importance to conservation aviculture. The jumbo and white are bred in large numbers for restaurants. The melanistic form is often seen among "wild" populations in the UK. The "Green Mute" is common in American collections. Other varieties include buff, red, pied and I'm sure many other combinations.


Click on thumbnails for larger views.

Southern Caucasus Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus colchicus

1 2 3 4 5

Photo Credits
1, Andy Maycen; 2-5, Scott Vowers.

Bianchi's Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus bianchii

1 2 3 4

Photo Credits
1-4, Scott Vowers.

Zarundy's Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus zarudnyi

1 2 3

Photo Credits
1, Andy Maycen; 2-3, James Pfarr.

Zerafshan Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus zerafschanicus


Photo Credits
1, James Pfarr.

Kirghiz Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus mongolicus

1 2 3 4 5 6

Photo Credits
1, Andy Maycen; 2, Jan Harteman; 3-6, Scott Vowers.

Strauch's Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus strauchi

1 2 3

Photo Credits
1-3, Scott Vowers.

Tonkinese Ring-necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus takatsukasae


Photo Credits
1, James Pfarr.

Formosan Ring-necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus formosanus

1 2

Photo Credits
1-2, James Pfarr.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Delacour, J. 1977. The Pheasants of the World. 2nd ed., World Pheasant Association and Spur Publications, Hindhead, U.K.
  • Delacour, J. 1978. Pheasants: Their Care and Breeding. T.F.H. Publishing, Neptune, NJ.
  • Howman, K. 1991. Pheasants of the World: Their Breeding and Management. Hancock House Publishers, Surrey, B.C. Canada.
  • Johnsgard, P.A. 1999. The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History. 2nd ed., Smithsonian Press, Washington D.C.
  • Madge, S., McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges, and Grouse. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
  • Stattersfield, A.J., Crosby, M.J., Long, A.J., Wege, D.C. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World, Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.


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