Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant were brought to Oregon in 1881, 1882 and again in 1884 when poplulations were established there and in neighboring states. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s birds imported from English gamebird farms were released across the US with the foundation of most wild pheasant populations in the U.S. deriving from those importations.
Western New York state once supported a healthy pheasant population, especially in the fertile lands along the Lake Plains. The birds, dependent on habitat of undisturbed grasslands in an agricultural landscape adapted well to this area. Today most wild birds left in New York are still found in that area though the population is down significantly from where it was prior to the 70s. As with other wild game birds, contemporary farming practices have degraded prime habitats for pheasants, replacing small, diversified farms with large monocultures. Through conservation efforts, management strategies have helped conserve and restore habitat for Ring-necked Pheasants around the country, particularly on the prairies.
The male Ring-necked Pheasant is immediately recognized by his spectacular multicolored plumage and long tail; the hen, drab in comparison, is light brown overall marked with black. Both are swift runners and strong short-distance flyers. They are found in areas with grassy field borders, wetlands, and numerous small patches of idle land with tall grass, forbs, and lesser amounts of brush and trees.
Cock birds establish breeding grounds in early spring and maintain sovereignty over their areas by crowing and calling, sometimes resort to physical combat that is rarely fatal. Hens assemble in breeding groups generally focused on a single male who courts them by strutting or running; spreading his tail feathers and the wing closest to her while erecting his red eye wattles and the feather-tufts behind his ears.
Hens choose the nest sites, using a natural depression or hollowing one out, gathering grasses, leaves, stalks, twigs, corn husks, and their breast feathers to line their ground nests built hidden in tall grasses. She lays from 7-15 eggs and has one or two broods.