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(Common) Pheasant

Male Pheasant
Male: Copper coloured with long tail.
Female Pheasant
Female: Drab brown with long tail.

The Pheasant is a non-native bird that was first introduced by the Normans in the 11th century as a game bird.

Male Pheasants are unmistakable with their iridescent copper-coloured plumage. The head, small ear tufts and neck are green, though the throat and cheeks are glossed purple. Their face and wattle are red. The tail is paler and has broad barring. Some races (P. torquatus) have white neck band.

The female Pheasant is buff coloured with dark brown markings.

Juvenile Pheasants are similar to females with shorter tails.

Front View
Front View
Rear View
Rear View

The so-called "melanistic" Pheasant is actually a mutant of the Common Pheasant (P. c. tenebrosus) or sometimes one of the other species, such as the rarer Green Pheasant (P. versicolor). The different races interbreed so there also many hybrids.

Scientific Name Phasianus colchicus
Length 75-90 cm  (30-36")
Wing Span 80-90 cm  (32-36")
Weight 900-1500 g  (2-3½lb)
Breeding Pairs 1550000
Present All Year
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The song of the male is a far-carrying, harsh "korr kok".


© Jean Roché,


Pheasants have a varied diet which they forage for on the ground and occasionally in trees. Typically, the diet is seeds, berries, insects, worms, grass and fruit.


The female nests in a shallow depression in the ground under a hedge or among tall grass.

The male often accompanies several females, and will defend his territory and harem from intruding males in vicious fights.

Nest & Eggs
Nest & Eggs

The eggs, which are about 45 mm by 36 mm, are smooth and non-glossy, and olive-brown. The female alone incubates the eggs and tends to the precocial nestlings.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
March 1 7-15 23-27 12-14


Not relevant.


The Pheasant is protected by the Game Acts, which give protection during the close season and allow shooting from September to February.

Whether or not one agrees with shooting, the woodland management and provision of food for the young game birds also benefits other woodland species.