Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) 14-11-14
Status: Resident, numbers increase in September due to birds released for hunting.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is considered to be Secure.
Identification: A large game bird with long legs and long barred tail. Males and females are very different. The males are distinctive with a bottle green head, with red fleshy head sides. The white collar is only present on the male and may not be present if you happen to see the least common race of the two races present in Ireland. Males are reddish brown and have a very long tail, upperparts which are spotted white and finely marked underparts. Females are very different, they are buff- brown with angular spots on the flanks and fine angular markings on the upperparts, the long tail is a give away.
Similar Species: None in Ireland.
Call: Most often heard is the hoarse alarm call when the bird is flushed, which decreases in strength as the bird flies off.
Diet: Eats a variety of foods gleaned from the ground including grain, seeds, green shoots and invertebrates.
Breeding: Nests on the ground. An introduced species from Asia, first introduced in the 16th century. Two races have been introduced to Ireland, but the race from China with its white neck ring has dominated. A game bird, it is raised in large numbers and released into woodland to be shot soon afterwards. Many birds have dispersed far from their release sights and can be found in woodland, farmland, large gardens and parks, where they have become 'wild'. Likes dense cover and can flush up at the last moment when nearly under foot. Roosts in trees. Widespread in Ireland but scarce or absent from parts of the west coast.
Wintering: Some birds may move from higher altitudes, but generally resident.
Where to See: Not a difficult species to see. Often seen in fields along roads.