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Bird  Pheasants

Pheasant - Photo  Copyright 2003 Gary Bradley
Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
Need help identifying birds? Probably the best value field guide is the "Collins Bird Guide", available through Amazon.co.uk -  click here

Latin name: Phasianus colchicus

Size: Length 45 to 55cms. The tail of the male is around 40cms.

Distribution: Found throughout the UK.

Months seen: All year round.

Food: Insects, seeds and berries.

Habitat: Farmland, particularly at the edges of fields where there is plenty of cover to hide from predators.

Special features: Pheasants are probably the best known of our game birds - birds hunted for sport. Originally from Asia, they were probably introduced into Britain in Roman times for food.

Over the centuries the original birds have interbred and produced a multitude of colour variations in the plumage.

When disturbed, pheasants prefer to run to cover and tend not to fly long distances. They have short broad wings with powerful flight muscles. When disturbed or in danger they can rise up from the ground faster than any other bird of a similar size and weight. The noisy flapping sound they make as they take off is usually enough to scare away predators.

To attract the females during the spring mating season the male sports an amazing mask of flame-red facial wattles, along with erect feather ears. He performs a ritual dance, vibrating his tail feathers and shouting his "cuk cuk" call.

Click for a better viewThe female takes all the responsibility for incubating the eggs and rearing the chicks. Her subtle coloured plumage gives her more protection from predators.

Every autumn their population is swelled as gamekeepers release millions of captive bred birds for the annual shoot. Although the shoot runs from October to February probably less than three quarters of the released birds are shot.


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  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved