Ring-Necked Pheasant

This is a flashback post.  At the end of August, I was driving back from a park walk on a rural backroad.  I was in luck- 3 large birds were walking alongside the edge of the road.

Birder’s advice- always keep an eye out when traveling!

Here’s what I saw from a camera’s-eye view through a car window.

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I was driving along this section of remote roadway…then suddenly, there they were.

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This is a male Ring-Necked Pheasant.  Notice the red face and yellow eye, plus the splashes of color (iridescent blue, rufous) on the body.  This is probably an adult bird molting.

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The male heads into the tall weeds from the edge of the road.

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Here are 2 young birds that were with him, hatched in the spring or early summer.  These birds have to grow up fast, usually keeping to the weedy cover of large fields.

My car was stopped not far away on the lonely road.  I lowered the window to get better pictures of them, but the electric window motor was just loud enough to disturb the birds, who had probably never heard such a sound before.  They all disappeared into the weedy field.

Ring-Necked Pheasants are large gamebirds brought to North America from Asia in the 1880s.  They have thrived in large fields full of cover.  Year-round residents, they spend much of their lives under cover, out of sight of human eyes.  Often in the warm weather one may hear the loud rooster-like call of a male over the fields.  A male will often have a harem of females.  Sometimes these birds will be aggressive to other gamebirds such as grouse- females have been known to lay eggs in grouse nests (leading to the occasional sighting of a male pheasant displaying to female grouse, since he was raised as a grouse).  These birds eat both insects and seeds, plentiful in the fields where they live.  In very cold winter weather, they will occasionally hold still in a torpor for days until the weather turns warmer.

I was glad to see what I could of these beautiful birds!