The ring-necked pheasant is a large, ground-nesting bird related to the partridge, quail, and grouse.
Ring-necked pheasants are native to various places in central and eastern Asia, but were introduced across the United States for hunting purposes. They have good hearing and eyesight which makes them difficult to approach. They often run rather than fly to escape predators and humans, but will take to the air with a loud cackle when pressed hard or when they run into open areas that offer little concealment.
Look for these birds near wetlands and brushy streams bordering cultivated fields or grasslands. Also listen for the male's loud "cuck cuck" call, especially in spring, as these birds are often heard rather than seen.
Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Key ID Features: Slightly larger than a chicken. Hatchery-raised males (shown above) often often lack the very long tail of the wild birds. Female is a mottled tan and brown.
Present in Park: Year round. Look for these birds in more rural areas of the park.
Habitat: Grass/shrubs, forest edges and cropland. Often winters in wetlands. Nests are grass-lined depressions in grass areas.
Did You Know?
The Mississippi River Basin, or watershed, drains 41% of the continental United States including 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces.