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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus

  • Name also: Common Pheasant, Ring-necked Pheasant
  • Family: Pheasants and partridges – Phasianidae
    Subfamily: True pheasants – Phasianinae
  • Appearance: Males are brightly coloured with extremely long tails. Females and juveniles also have long tails but inconspicuous light brown colouring.
  • Size: Male body length 70–90 cm plus tail measuring 35–70 cm, female smaller at 55–70 cm plus 20–25 cm tail, wingspan 70–90 cm, weight 1.25 kg (male), 1 kg (female).
  • Nest: In a hollow in the ground, with little or no nest material. Usually concealed by vegetation in farmland or in woodland margins beneath a tree or bush.
  • Breeding: 8–16 eggs laid May–June, incubated by female for 22–27 days. Fledglings learn to fly short distances within just 10 days.
  • Distribution: Originates from China, introduced in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and in Finland from the early 20th century. Thrives in farmland and parkland. Commonly seen in suburban gardens. Finnish breeding population estimated at 15,000–20,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary.
  • Diet: Seeds, grain and small invertebrates.
  • Calls: Mating call a loud “ker-erk”.

Pheasants are easily recognisable large birds with long, tapering tails. The tails of both sexes are brown with dark lateral stripes. Males have colourful plumage with striking markings including a red eye patch, metallic green colouring on the head and neck, and reddish and copper brown colouring on their bodies. Females are more uniform yellowish brown in colouring with some darker streaked patterning. Pheasants have greenish yellow beaks and grey-brown legs, males’ legs also have distinctive sharp spurs. Males have orange-coloured irises, but females irises are pale brown.

Pheasants may be hunted in Finland, like other members of the family. They are the most widespread game bird globally, since they have also been introduced in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in other parts of Asia than their original home. Finland’s first pheasants were released into the wild just north of Helsinki in 1901.

Other species from the same family

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