Friday, November 18, 2022

What's with all the pheasants?

It seems we are dripping with pheasants lately. Everywhere we turn, we see them.

These are ring-necked pheasants, originally from Asia but introduced into North America in the late 1880s. They're popular game birds.

We had occasional pheasants in our last home, but here they're abundant as anything. They're extraordinarily cagey during breeding season (even the males), but come early winter, they're so casual that it's hard not to run over them with the car, even while creeping along at 2 mph on a dirt road.

Like most game birds, females are a bland and cryptic brown.

And even in their off-season, they're shyer than the males, scurrying across open areas and preferring less exposed locations.

But the males are beautiful and showy. During the off season, they're much bolder.

In late October, I heard a commotion and looked out the window to see some pheasant up in a blackberry bush, gobbling the dried-up remains of the season's fruit.

See the female?

They're such ground birds that I've never seen them even in a bush, so those must have been good berries.

For obvious reasons, the females are easier to spot when there's snow on the ground.

I was driving out one morning and had to wait for two handsome boys to cross the road. They moseyed to the embankment on the side and just stood there watching me. "Fine," I said, grabbing my camera. "I mean, if you're going to pose..."

A few days later, the same thing happened. C'mon, boys, move....

Why did the pheasant cross the road? Now we know.


  1. The funniest thing I remember about pheasants was observed out of our kitchen window, years ago. Our round bales were about 150 -175 yards from the house (as the crow flies). They were in rows with a bale stacked on top (on their sides with two on the bottom and one on top if you look from the end). There were pheasants all over the tops of them digging in the snow. Suddenly, they stopped crouched down and one or two at a time belly slid off the bales like river otters on the snow. What a sight! We were all at the window watching by the time the show was over. Wondering what caused that "escape" we continued to watch as a large hawk stealthy came over the trees of our shelterbelt and the tops of the bales. I have only seen that one time, but it was interesting and definitely memorable!

  2. Growing up in west central Minnesota we always had pheasant for Thanksgiving instead of Turkey. I remember playing with the beautiful feathers.

  3. Apparently they haven't been hunted!

  4. I spent a few years in South Dakota as far North as you could get and still call it South Dakota along the Missouri River and used to hunt a lot of pheasant. During the Winter months they usually like to crowd into natural wind breaks that include out buildings and houses along the field edges. If they are in a area they are hunted they will also hunker over in a kinda crouch and run away using cover so you don't see them. Cold days they can usually be found close into human structures if there are any nearby to huddle up to.

  5. I remember hunting them on the farm back in Illinois. Then in the late 1960's 70's they almost disappeared from the farm. The theory was all of the sprays on the crops and the lack of fences / fence rows. They started coming back in the 2000 time frame.

    1. I forgot to add that a Guinea Fowl fly's the same way as a Pheasant.

  6. My brother used to go out pheasant hunting and share with my mom and I. We did pheasant for Thanksgiving one year -- it was delicious.