Saturday, February 16, 2008
Recently two Ring-necked Pheasants have been frequenting our yard. They especially enjoy the compost pile. They are big, beautiful birds, really fun to watch! As far as I can tell, they are both males. One looks more or less like the bird pictured above* but the other has more of a light tan color on the body feathers. They both have dark colored heads, whereas the females have tan feathers on both the head and body. I'm not sure if the lighter colored bird is just a variation or perhaps a juvenile.
Did you know that the common Ring-Necked Pheasant is not a native bird? I was not aware of that until I looked these fellows up online. Apparently Pheasants were introduced to the US from Asia in 1857 for hunting. They've since become well established in wild and rural areas all across north america. They are also commonly farmed as a game bird. It's possible that our two are on furlough from a neighbor's farm, although as skittish as they are they could be truly feral.
UPDATE: On Sunday another pheasant visited our yard, and he appears to be different kind. He had no ring around his neck and his feathers were very dark - almost black - with a green irridescence all over. I found the below picture on a website that sells pheasant chicks as well as roasts, which calls it a "Melanistic Mutant". Now THAT is a cool name.
*I did not take either of these pictures.