Relatively speaking, ring-necked pheasants are larger and longer-tailed than an American Crow but smaller than a wild turkey. Both male and female can range in size from 20” to 28” in length and weigh between two (2) and seven (7) pounds during growth. The wingspan can be anywhere from a little less than two feet (2’) up to slightly less than three feet (3’).
Ring-necked Pheasants are birds of agricultural areas intermixed with areas of taller vegetation, which they use for cover. Look for them along rural roadsides, in overgrown or recently harvested fields, and in brushy areas and hedgerows. Farms, fields, marsh edges, brush. Sometimes in open grassland but more often in brushy meadows, woodland edges, hedgerows, farmland with mixed crops. Access to water may be important; pheasants are often common around edges of marshes, and are rarely found in very arid places. Audubon
Originally a native of Asia, the pheasant was introduced to the United States as a game bird. Intensively managed as a game bird in most areas where it occurs in North America. Some populations here probably not self-sustaining, but are maintained by releases of game-farm birds. Audubon
They are omnivorous and opportunistic. Diet varies with season and place. Feeds on wide variety of grains and smaller seeds, fresh green shoots, buds, roots, berries, insects, spiders, earthworms, snails; rarely eats lizards, snakes, frogs, rodents. Diet may include more seeds in winter, more insects in summer. They also eat termites! Audubon Their feeding behavior is typically on the ground, sometimes in trees. On the ground they scratch with their feet or dig with their bills to uncover food.
Nesting & Egg Clutches
The female Ring-necked Pheasant chooses her nest site, which is usually less than half a mile from her wintering range. Nests are usually surrounded by tall vegetation and built on the ground, often in a natural depression or a hollow that the female scoops out herself, about a third of an inch to 3 inches deep. Nests are rudimentary—unlined or sparsely lined with vegetation gathered from beside the depression, possibly some grasses, leaves, weed stalks and and/or a few feathers from her own breast for lining. The average bowl is about 7” across and 2-3 inches deep.
Clutch size is 7-15 eggs. Females sometimes lay eggs in each others' nests or in those of other birds; clutches of more than about 18 probably result from two or more females. Incubation is by the female only, 23-28 days. Pheasant chicks hatch completely covered with down, eyes open. They leave the nest immediately, following the female and feeding for themselves. The male may rarely accompany female and brood. Chicks are capable of short flights at about 12 days, but stay with female for 10-12 weeks. Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds
Male Ring-necked Pheasants establish breeding territories in early spring. A male maintains sovereignty over his acreage by crowing and calling; he approaches intruders with head and tail erect, and may tear up grass that he then tosses. Competitors sometimes resort to physical combat. After a series of escalating threat displays, fighting cocks flutter upward, breast to breast, and bite at each other’s wattles. They may take turns leaping at each other with bill, claws, and spurs deployed. Usually the challenger runs away before long, and these fights are rarely fatal. Females assemble in breeding groups focused on a single male and his territory. The cock courts the hen with a variety of displays—strutting or running; spreading his tail and the wing closest to her while erecting the red wattles around his eyes and the feather-tufts behind his ears. He also “tidbits”—poses with head low while calling her to a morsel of food. A female may flee at first, leading the male on a chase punctuated by courtship displays. Males guard their groups of females from the advances of other males. Like many birds, Ring-necked Pheasants take frequent dust baths, raking their bills and scratching at the ground, shaking their wings to sweep dust and sand into their feathers, lying on their sides and rubbing their heads. Dust-bathing probably removes oil, dirt, parasites, dead skin cells, old feathers, and the sheaths of new feathers. Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds
Pheasants, sheep, squirrels and other small rodents carry ticks, but pheasants carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. They pass it on to the ticks, which feed on their blood, who in turn can pass it on to humans.