Lancaster County 4-H Lancaster County 4-H 4-H Embryology
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE USA
email: lancaster@unl.edu

 

Baby pheasants are called chicks
Pheasant Chick
Male Pheasant - Rooster, Cocks or Cockbirds
Adult Pheasant Rooster
Female Pheasant - Hen
Adult Pheasant Hen

The ringneck pheasant is not native to Nebraska or even North America. It was first introduced from China to the Willamette Valley of Oregon in 1881. Since that time nearly all states have attempted to establish ringnecks.

Males Pheasants are called roosters, cocks or cockbirds (photo far right Top); females are hens (photo far right bottom). The baby birds are called chicks (photo right left).

If you live or visit rural Nebraska, you may hear the crow of the male pheasant or rooster. It is a loud double squawk followed by quick muffled wingbeats (you may not hear the wingbeats if you are far away but you'll sure hear his crow). Males crow more during mating season, especially at sunrise and sunset; they may also make a loud cackle when flushed into flying. Hens are usually quiet. (Hear what a Pheasant Sounds Like)

Like most wild birds, ringneck pheasants are very alert - they have terrific hearing and sight. During hunting season in the late fall, they are very wary and stick close to cover (like thick shrubs and weeds) where they can hide. During spring and summer, pheasants are less careful and can be seen strutting across freshly mowed fields and along roadsides. When chased, pheasants would rather run than fly. They quickly run into heavy cover -- brambles, honeysuckle or multiflora rose. When pheasants are cornered or surprised, they fly. Pheasants are strong fliers for short distances reach 45 miles per hour.

During the spring breeding season, roosters stake out individual territories. By putting on a colorful show, the rooster may collect a harem of hens who are interested in mating with the rooster. Breeding begins in late March or early April and sometimes last until August.

The rooster does not help incubate eggs or raise young. Nesting occurs from April to August. A hen selects a nest site on the ground in a hayfield, a weedy field, an overgrown pasture or a brushy fencerow. A natural hollow (or one scraped out by the hen) is lined with weeds, grasses and leaves. The plants around the nest help hid it and the hen as she sits on the nest.

The hen lays 6-15 eggs (average is 10-12) over a two-week period. A pheasant egg is about 1 1/3 x 1 2/3 inches. It can be a light tan to pale olive green color. The hen doesn't start incubating the eggs until the last egg is laid. That way, all the eggs will hatch on the same day. It takes 23-24 days for the eggs to hatch.

Pheasant Chick in GrassAfter the pheasant chicks hatch, they are able to run and eat as soon as they are dry. The chicks depend on the hen to keep them warm and dry - she does this by sitting on top of them - this is called "brooding". The hen broods her chicks during the night. During the day, the chicks blend in with the grasses and if they need to, can squat and not move until the hen gives a signal to move again. Many animals eat baby birds like the young pheasants so it is important that they aren't seen.

The hen guides her chicks in food-finding insects, plentiful and high in protein, are a good early food. By two weeks of age, chicks can fly short distances; after six weeks, their adult feathers starts to come in; and by autumn, the young birds look like their parents.

Pheasants eat weed seeds, grains, fruits and berries, shoots, leaves, grasses, and insects. They find a lot of their food by scratching through ground litter.

Sources (below):

Pennsylvannia Bureau of Wildlife Management

North Dakota State University - Ringneck Pheasants

Nebraska Game & Parks Commission: Hear what a Pheasant Sounds Like

Horizon School District is Raising Ringnecks: Pheasants in the Classroom

Lomond School is Raising Ringnecks: Pheasants in the Classroom (the hen and chick in grass photos above are reprinted with permission from this web site)

EGG Cam Resources: - Resources on incubating and raising chickens, ducks and more.

EGG Cam Photos & Movie Clips

Pheasant Chick Photo Credit (Top Left): V. Jedlicka, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Go Back to Learn More Go back to Choose another Bird and Learn More

 


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