Phasianus colchicus

Common Names: Common pheasant, ring-necked pheasant
Category: Birds
Sub-category: Pheasants, Turkeys, & Grouse

A widely introduced game bird. Common pheasants were introduced in North America in 1881. There are many color forms of the male Common Pheasant, ranging in colour from nearly white to almost black in some melanistic examples. These are due to captive breeding and hybridization between subspecies and with the green pheasant, reinforced by continual releases of stock from varying sources to the wild. For example, the 'ring-necked pheasants' common in Europe, North America and Australia do not pertain to any specific taxon, they rather represent a stereotyped hybrid swarm. Body weight can range from 1.1 to 6.6 lbs, with males averaging 2.6 lbs and females averaging 2 lbs. The adult male common pheasant of the nominate subspecies Phasianus colchicus colchicus is 24 to 35 inches in length with a long brown streaked black tail, accounting for almost 20 inches of the total length. The body plumage is barred bright gold and brown plumage with green, purple and white markings. The head is bottle green with a small crest and distinctive red wattle. The female (hen) is much less showy, with a duller mottled brown plumage all over and measuring 20 to 25 inches long including a tail of around 8 inches. Juvenile birds have the appearance of the female with a shorter tail until young males begin to grow characteristic bright feathers on the breast, head and back at about 10 weeks after hatching.

Common Pheasants feed solely on the ground but roost in sheltered trees at night.

Edible Notes: Pheasant is a commonly eaten gamebird. Can be sometimes found in gourmet food stores and sometimes upscale supermarkets. If you don't see it in stock, check with a manager and see if it can be ordered.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.