Index of Species Information

WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Phasianus colchicus


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Phasianus colchicus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1995. Phasianus colchicus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : PHCO COMMON NAMES : ring-necked pheasant pheasant TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for the ring-necked pheasant is Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus. There are 30 subspecies recognized worldwide. The ring-necked pheasants now established in North America have come from China (P. colchicus torquatus) and England (where the subspecies P. c. colchicus, P. c. torquatus, and others have been introduced and have hybridized). The ring-necked pheasant in North America is a hybrid of several subspecies and is included, therefore, only under the specific name [1]. ORDER : Galliformes CLASS : Bird FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Phasianus colchicus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Ring-necked pheasants are native to Asia. They have been introduced into North America and are now established from southern British Columbia and central Alberta to northern Minnesota, southern Ontario, southwestern Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. They occur, at least locally, as far south as southern interior California, Utah, northern and southeastern Texas, southern Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina [1,12,17]. Ring-necked pheasants also occur in Hawaii [1]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES29 Sagebrush FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES :

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K038 Great Basin sagebrush K024 Juniper steppe woodland K047 Fescue - oatgrass K048 California steppe K049 Tule marshes K050 Fescue - wheatgrass K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass K053 Grama - galleta steppe K054 Grama - tobosa prairie K055 Sagebrush steppe K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe K057 Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe K058 Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe K063 Foothills prairie K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass K065 Grama - buffalograss K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass K068 Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss K069 Bluestem - grama prairie K070 Sandsage - bluestem prairie K074 Bluestem prairie K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie K076 Blackland prairie K077 Bluestem - sacahuista prairie K085 Mesquite - buffalograss K088 Fayette prairie SAF COVER TYPES : 220 Rocky Mountain juniper 238 Western juniper SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY PLANT COMMUNITIES : Ring-necked pheasants commonly occur in open plant communities dominated by grasses, wild as well as agricultural. In the Midwest, ring-necked pheasants often occupy alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and red clover (Trifolium pratense) hayfields, particularly when these crops are grown in combination with smooth brome (Bromus inermis) [26,44]. In Nebraska ring-necked pheasants are commonly found in little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and mixed-grass communities [26]. Ring-necked pheasants in North Dakota and South Dakota often occur in wheatgrass-alfalfa communities [44]. Several studies in Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, and New Mexico have shown that communities dominated by switchgrass provide excellent habitat for ring-necked pheasants [23,26,36,57]. In Iowa, ring-necked pheasant nest densities in switchgrass averaged 68.4 per 100 hectares, much higher than the densities of 39.8 per 100 hectares observed in alfalfa-orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) [57]. In New Mexico, ring-necked pheasants often occupy communities dominated by switchgrass, big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and little bluestem [36]. On Conservation Reserve Program lands in the Texas southern High Plains, ring-necked pheasants inhabit blue grama-Kleingrass (Bouteloua gracilis-Panicum coloratum), blue grama-sideoats grama (B. curtipendula), and blue grama-plains bluestem (Bothriochola ischaemum) communities [9,10]. Ring-necked pheasants often thrive in agricultural areas. In South Dakota, Trautman [58] reported that ring-necked pheasants are found in abundance only in areas where 50 percent or more of the land is under cultivation. In Colorado, southwestern Nebraska, and Kansas, wheat stubble provides good habitat [44]. Thickets, interspersed with native grasslands and agricultural lands, are important cover; cattails (Typha spp.) and bulrushes (Scirpus spp.) also provide cover [36]. In South Dakota, plant communities used by ring-necked pheasants include wild plum (Prunus spp.) and chokecherry (P. virginiana) thickets, brush-willow (Salix spp.) thickets, farm orchards and hedges, small stands of brush with an understory of giant ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya) or wild sunflower (Helianthus spp.), the leeward sides of groves of willows, and clumps of shrubby growth with an understory of brome or quackgrass (Elytriga repens) along roadsides [58]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Phasianus colchicus
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Breeding season - Ring-necked pheasants are usually polygamous but some males are monogamous. In the spring it is common to see one male with several females [7]. In Montana cocks are capable of breeding by late February and hens can lay eggs by late March. Winter weather, which often prevails through March in much of Montana, may delay mating attempts until April. Cocks defend breeding territories or "crowing territories," and crow to attract hens. The boundaries of a "crowing territory" may shift as the season progresses [58]. Cocks mate with any receptive hen that enters their territory. In Montana crowing begins in late March, reaches a peak in May, and then gradually subsides. Sporadic crowing may be heard through July. Cocks and hens are sexually active until about August 1 [60]. Age at first reproduction - Ring-necked pheasants are capable of breeding the spring of the year after they hatch [60]. Nesting and incubation - Before nesting, hens frequently lay eggs at random or deposit them in "dump" nests (a nest where eggs are layed but are not incubated and do not hatch). Several hens may lay eggs in a single dump nest and then abandon them. As many as 50 eggs have been found in a single dump nest. The incidence of random egg laying and laying in dump nests appears to increase as the local ring-necked pheasant population increases [60]. After constructing a nest, the hen lays 6 to 15 eggs, usually 10 to 12 [7]. The hen lays one egg per day until the clutch is complete. Incubation begins after the entire clutch is laid. Ring-necked pheasant hens often renest after a clutch is destroyed. The hen will continue nesting attempts until she successfully hatches a clutch, loses a clutch late in incubation, or can no longer produce eggs that season. The average number of eggs laid per clutch decreases by one or more with each successive attempted renest. An average first clutch of 10 eggs may be reduced by half in the third or fourth renest attempt [60]. The eggs are incubated by the hen for 23 to 25 days [7]. Each hen hatches only one brood during the breeding season, but because of renesting attempts, broods of many different ages can be seen throughout the season [60]. Ring-necked pheasants sometimes lay eggs in nests of other birds such as gray partridge (Perdix perdix), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), and blue-winged teal (Anas discors). Few of these eggs hatch, and the chicks that do hatch probably do not survive long [7,60]. Egg-laying dates - Egg dates recorded by Bent [7] are as follows: Washington and Oregon - April 13-June 17 California - May 3-June 10 Michigan - April 17 Massachusetts - May 16 Pennsylvania - May 12 and June 4 In British Columbia, egg dates from 189 clutches ranged from April 21 to July 27, with 51 percent recorded between May 10 and June 8 [12]. The earliest recorded ring-neck pheasant nest in Montana was found on April 15. Nesting activity peaks during the first half of May, although this varies somewhat with location. In Montana, the latest nesting activity was recorded on September 13 [60]. Fledging - The hen leads her chicks away from the nest as soon as their feathers have dried [7,58]. Within a few days they start developing wing feathers, and are capable of making short flights by the time they are 2 weeks old. The downy coat is completely replaced by juvenile feathers within 6 weeks [58]. The chicks are cared for by the hen until they are 6 to 8 weeks old [7,58]. Life span - Mortality of young ring-necked pheasants is high. The mortality between hatching and 2 weeks of age may be as high as 25 percent and may increase to almost 50 percent by 9 weeks of age. The main causes of chick loss are chilling rain or hail storms, predation, road traffic and farming operations [60]. Only about 3 out of 10 chicks survive to adulthood the spring after hatching. A 2-year-old is a comparatively old ring-necked pheasant. Birds 3 or more years old usually make up 5 percent or less of the population. Complete population turnover (length of time for all birds hatched during any 1 year to die) generally occurs within 5 years [60]. PREFERRED HABITAT : Quality habitat for ring-necked pheasants provides adequate food, with cover in close proximity. Ring-necked pheasant habitat is often associated with areas of high soil fertility where agricultural crops and other vegetation provide the basic food and cover requirements [12]. Cultivated farmland interspersed with patches of brush or woodlots often provides some of the best habitat for ring-necked pheasants. Ring-necked pheasants also inhabit fallow fields, brushy pastures, roadside hedgerows, cutover lands, brackish and freshwater marshes, lakeshores, open woodlands, dense forests, meadows, beaches, and city parks and yards [12,17,60]. Ring-necked pheasants breed in most habitats where cover is available except dense woodlands, but prefer agricultural areas in shrubby areas interspersed with fields, grass and grain crops. Nests are often located at the base of clumps of grass, shrubs, or fenceposts, among tall grasses, reeds, cattails, and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), next to logs, buildings and construction equipment, or under small trees and brush piles. Nests are frequently located close to sources of water. They form small depressions in the ground and are composed of grasses, feathers, weed stalks, twigs, and rootlets [12]. Fencerows, roadside ditches, and field edges that are vegetated provide travel corridors for ring-necked pheasants [60]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Ring-necked pheasants require specific cover for different phases of their life cycle. Therefore, cover types must be interspersed to insure that all types are available throughout the year [44]. Nesting cover - Nesting cover must be dense enough to prevent detection of the nest and incubating hens by predators. An abundance of nesting cover in early spring is especially important for successful nesting since early clutches and broods are larger than later ones [60]. Nests located in undisturbed residual cover (plant vegetation remaining from the previous year) have the best chance of hatching successfully [58,60]. Grass-forb stands that are at least 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) high in spring, preferably more than 12 to 14 inches (30-36 cm) high, are attractive for nesting by ring-necked pheasants. The grass should be upright, offer partial overhead concealment, and have high stem densities in parts of the field, with some dead plant material on the ground surface [21]. Residual cover also provides important cover for cocks on "crowing territories" [45]. Managing areas for residual cover has been described by Frank [21]. Throughout the initial one-third (April to mid-May) of the nesting season in South Dakota, nesting cover consists entirely of residual vegetation [58]. Residual cover of weeds and grasses in roadsides, railroad rights-of-way, fencerows, shelterbelts, tree groves, weedy grain stubble, ungrazed or lightly grazed pastures, marsh edges, stream and ditchbanks, and abandoned farmsteads all provide good nesting cover [58,60]. In Colorado, southwestern Nebraska, and Kansas, wheat stubble provides good residual cover for nesting [44]. Grass or alfalfa hayfields often furnish nesting cover until mowing time, but then become deathtraps for hens, eggs, and chicks [60]. Studies throughout the Midwest have shown that alfalfa and red clover hayfields, particularly when coplanted with smooth brome, provide preferred nesting cover for ring-necked pheasants [26,44]. In south-central Nebraska, 82 percent of all ring-necked pheasant nests were established where vegetation made its maximum growth during the spring months. Thirty-two percent of all nests were found in alfalfa, 27 percent were in cool-season grass stands, and 23 percent where found in winter wheat fields. Mixed assemblages of forbs, grasses, and semiaquatic plants occurred at 16 percent of all nest sites. Vegetation complexes of mixed warm- and cool-season grasses and complexes that were entirely composed of warm-season species occurred at slightly more than 2 percent of all nest sites [3]. In many states, roadsides provide the most important nesting sites [4,44,49]. In eastern South Dakota, roadsides comprised only 3 percent of the study area, but 14 percent of all ring-necked pheasant were hatched in roadside vegetation [49]. A Nebraska study revealed that more than 25 percent of the ring-necked pheasants produced on the study area came from roadsides, which made up 1.4 percent of the area [4]. When roadside cover is not mowed from year to year, nesting use and hatching success often increase substantially [35,55]. Several researchers reported ring-neck pheasant preference for nesting in narrow, strip cover versus large blocks [23,66,67]. Brood cover - Brood cover must conceal the hen and her brood, as well as provide food while chicks are small [60]. In New Mexico, Knight and Dixon [36] reported that ideal brood cover is layered with varied screening ability: thick from the ground level to 8 inches (20 cm) high, and fairly heavy between 8 to 20 inches (20-51 cm) above ground. Twenty- to 40-inch (51-102 cm)-high cover should be thicker than in the surrounding area [36]. Broods are found in roads and open areas within and along field edges in early morning when grass is wet with dew; in relatively short, open cover when feeding; in taller, heavier cover for loafing during the midday; and in unmowed grassland or weedy areas for nighttime roosting [58,60]. Dusting and grit-picking sites tend to be in more exposed areas, usually adjacent to dense escape cover [60]. Brood cover and home range change as chicks mature. During the early portion of the brood-rearing season, in June and July, ring-necked pheasant chicks use the same cover types that are important for nesting. Brood-rearing areas center around hatching sites during the 3 weeks after chicks hatch. In Montana initial brood-rearing areas generally range from 5 to 10 acres (2-4 ha), and in South Dakota from 10 to 30 acres (4-12 ha) [58,60]. Outward movements from hatching sites lengthen as mobility improves with age. In South Dakota, home ranges average 71 acres (29 ha) by late August, with alfalfa and grain harvests causing shifts in young ring-necked pheasant home-range locations [58]. Favored summer feeding places for broods are recently cut hay or grain fields, although some feeding occurs in all types of cover. Cover consisting of medium-density vegetation is used more commonly in summer than light or dense cover [37,58]. Woody cover is valuable to broods for shade in hot weather [47,58,60]. Small trees and shrubs receive more use than tall trees or hedgerows of shelterbelts [47,58]. Row crops such as corn, sorghum, and soybeans are not used extensively until August, when the grain and much of the stubble have been harvested [3,37,47,58]. Use of row-crop fields, particularly corn and sorghum fields, for resting, feeding and dusting, normally begins early in August and continues through September and October. By then most young have dissociated from broods and adults, and young in small groups or loosely organized flocks more readily use all available cover [3,58]. Loafing and roosting cover - During spring and summer ring-necked pheasants loaf in vegetation suitable for escape as well as other needs. Choice of loafing sites is usually random among prevalent plant communities. Brush tickets, shrubrows, and tall weed patches are favored on hot summer days for shade. In South Dakota, mixed alfalfa-grass communities are used heavily during the latter part of spring [58]. Woody vegetation is preferred for loafing in the winter. During this season, ring-necked pheasants prefer loafing sites that provide overhead protection, rather than the open canopy often used for summer roosting. Use of loafing and roosting sites is influenced by severity of winter weather and depth of snow cover. Dense stands of woody or herbaceous cover are used on severely cold, windy days, while relatively sparse weed patches or small thickets are the most likely choices on mild, sunny days. In early winter and when snow is not deep, ring-necked pheasants usually concentrate near woody cover for daytime loafing. Night roosts are in nearby herbaceous cover. When all herbaceous vegetation is buried under drifting snow, woody cover is used for roosting and loafing. If necessary, ring-necked pheasants use the leeward side of shelterbelt snowbanks for protection during blizzards [58]. Winter cover - The importance of winter cover areas to ring-necked pheasants depends on the area's distance to food. Cover beyond 1 mile (1.6 km) from food is seldom used. In South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, and Montana, distances usually traveled for food during winter rarely exceed one-fourth mile (0.4 km) [58]. Lyon [65] reported vegetation height in excess of 15 inches (38 cm) and stem densities ranging from 6 to 30 per square foot at winter roosting sites in north-central Colorado. Knight and Dixon [36] recommended that winter cover in New Mexico be more than 15 inches (38 cm) high. with herbs included in all plantings [36]. In South Dakota, wetlands and some shelterbelts provide most of the winter cover [44]. Sweetclover (Melilotus spp.) and tall, dense stands of cattails, bulrushes, and other marshland vegetation are highly favored when snow cover limits food availability [58]. In North Dakota, ring-necked pheasants require wide, dense shelterbelts that provide adequate cover from drifting snow. In Kansas and Colorado, wheat stubble with nearby shrub cover such as plum thickets is used. In Wisconsin wetlands offer good winter cover [44]. Cattails and bulrushes in playas provide excellent winter habitat in the Texas panhandle. Playas with adjacent wheat, corn, and sorghum fields have proven to be good winter areas for ring-necked pheasants [36]. Winter cover in northern Iowa may be limiting since vegetation in many shelterbelts and farmstead windbreaks has been removed or has matured and no longer provides adequate cover. Standing herbaceous cover may be adequate winter cover in the southern latitudes of ring-necked pheasant's range [44]. In New Mexico, cover around water may also be used. Fall plowing, fall burning, trampling and heavy grazing around water, and removal of old tree blocks and belts may be detrimental to wintering ring-necked pheasants [36]. FOOD HABITS : Ring-necked pheasants are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of plant and animal food. Although the importance of individual food items varies among regions and even locally, such variation evidently reflects differences in availability rather than preference [58]. Ring-necked pheasants feed primarily on plant foods, especially waste grains, but also on seeds of weeds and grasses, acorns, buds and soft parts of herbaceous vegetation, fleshy fruits, insects, and occasionally snakes and small rodents [7,17]. Chicks live almost exclusively on insects during their first few weeks of life. Grasshoppers, crickets, and ants are the most common insects consumed and are excellent sources of protein and other nutrients needed by the young pheasants. Other insects eaten include potato beetles, squash bugs, curculio beetle, and larvae of all kinds of insects including gypsy and brown-tail moths and tent caterpillar [7]. The chicks' food habits gradually change and by autumn are similar to those of adults [58]. Adult ring-necked pheasants are mainly seed-eaters, with cereal grains comprising their staple food items [58]. In Montana, Weigand and Janson [60] reported that ring-necked pheasants eat a variety of foods but cereal grains form the bulk of the diet. Much of the grain (wheat, oats, rye, and barley) eaten by ring-necked pheasants is waste grain that has fallen to the ground during harvesting. A Montana Fish and Game Department study in the Bighorn and Yellowstone valleys in the 1940's found that farm crops furnished 77 percent of the ring-necked pheasant's diet. Wheat, barley, corn and oats were the most important items. Beans, peas, and sorghum were also eaten but in small quantities. The seeds of weeds and grass in cultivated crops comprised about 7 percent of total food consumption. Most important were wild oats (Avena spp.), Russian-thistle (Salsola kali), sunflower, bristle grass (Setaria spp.), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and sweetclover. Wild fruits amounted to less than 3 percent of total food. Common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) fruits were the most important. Small amounts of chokecherry, buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis), and wild rose (Rosa spp.) fruits were also eaten. Leaves and other plant parts made up less than 2 percent of the total food. The main items in this category were leaves of alfalfa, prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), sweetclover, and root fragments of prickly lettuce uprooted by plowing [60]. During the laying season, hens regularly seek out snail shells and other high-calcium grit needed for egg shell production [58,60]. During autumn, foods from harvest wastage (corn, small grains, etc.), wild seeds, berries, succulent vegetation, and insects are fed upon for building up deposits of fat for the winter season [58]. Fruits and buds of woody plants are important winter foods of ring-necked pheasants [7,36]. During severe winters, when preferred food is scarce, ring-necked pheasants feed on buds from shrubs [60]. If salt marshes are still open, they search for small mollusks and crustaceans [7]. In South Dakota, the winter diet of ring-necked pheasants contained a larger percentage of high-energy farm-crop grain during December, January, and February than at any other time of the year. Corn made up 75 percent of winter food; wheat, oats, and barley averaged about 10 percent, and weed seeds about 5 percent. Sunflower was the most important weed seed at this time, followed by Kochia spp., ragweed, and foxtail (Alopecurus spp.). Kochia was unimportant as a food item except during the winter months [58]. PREDATORS : Some predators that eat ring-necked pheasants or their eggs include skunks (Spilogale putorius, Mephitis spp., Conepatus leuconotus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), domestic cats (Felis catus), dogs (Canis familiaris), coyotes (Canis latrans), foxes (Urocyon spp., Vulpes spp.), weasels (Mustela spp.), minks (Mustela vison), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), voles (Muridae), rats (Muridae), eagles (Accipitridae), hawks (Accipitridae), falcons (Falconidae), owls (Tytonidae and Strigidae), crows (Corvus spp.), magpies (Pica spp.), jays (Corvidae), grackles (Quiscalus spp.), and gulls (Larus spp.) [7,28,36,45,60]. Losses due to predation are generally highest in late winter and early spring, apparently because at this time ring-necked pheasants are often forced into the open to find food [28,45]. Predation accounted for 80.8 percent of all classified deaths among a radio-tagged sample of 244 ring-necked hens on the Waterlow Wildlife Area in Wisconsin. More than 60 percent of the losses due to predation were attributed to mammalian predators. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was implicated in four-fifths of these deaths [18]. Predator control is sometimes necessary to protect small populations or when an new population is being established [36]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Ring-necked pheasants are a game bird and are hunted in many states [58,60]. Grazing can have a negative impact on ring-necked pheasants. Heavy grazing of shelterbelts destroys the value of these areas for nesting, brood-rearing, and general cover. Prolonged or heavy browsing of the woody plants can eventually kill the shelterbelt. Grazing of ditchbanks and other uncultivated areas may reduce or eliminate cover value for ring-necked pheasants [58]. Drainage of wetlands often removes critical ring-necked pheasant nesting, brooding, roosting and protective winter habitat [60]. Reestablishing old, drained wetlands that have not proven agriculturally productive can improve ring-necked pheasant habitat [58]. Pesticides applied to ring-necked pheasant habitats may kill the bird directly, during application, or indirectly, when ring-necked pheasants eat treated insects or vegetation [60]. Heavy use of herbicides can be detrimental by limiting cover [36]. Farming operations such as mowing and plowing often have a negative impact on ring-necked pheasants. Mowing during the nesting season often destroys ring-necked pheasant nests, broods, and hens [45,48,60]. Recommended farm practices for promoting ring-necked pheasants and an explanation of their typical effects on the birds have been described [51]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Phasianus colchicus
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Fires in ring-necked pheasant habitat during the nesting season can destroy ring-necked pheasant nests, eggs, and broods [19]. During an April 17 wildfire in mixed growth of herbaceous and woody plants in Castalia, Ohio, several ring-necked pheasant nests and eggs were destroyed [41]. In Nebraska, Erwin and Stasiak [19] reported that 38 ring-necked pheasant nests containing a total of 336 eggs were destroyed in a native grassland by an early spring prescribed fire. The authors did not mention if any nests survived the fire. Adult ring-necked pheasants reacted to the fire by flying from the grass only after the fire had approached to within a few meters. Several times ring-necked pheasants were observed flying through flames that at times reached 16 to 23 feet (5-7 m) in length. An adult ring-necked pheasant hen flew through the flames and landed in the smoking ashes just behind the fire line. She did not appear to be injured [19]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Ring-necked pheasants may be both positively and negatively affected by fire occurring in their habitat. The effect of fire on ring-necked pheasants during the first postfire year is generally negative if valuable cover is destroyed and alternate cover is not available [27,32,45]. However, fire is an important factor in creating and maintaining ring-necked pheasant habitat and often has a positive effect over the long term [27,32,34]. Short-term effects - Scattered patches of tall, dense (undisturbed) cover are important for ring-necked pheasant survival [62]. Spring burning of grain stubble, irrigation ditchbanks, barrow pits, railroad rights-of-way, and agriculturally idle areas removes important nesting cover for that year. Removal of herbaceous cover in abandoned fields or along fencerows destroys crowing territories, nesting sites, and general escape cover for ring-necked pheasants both in summer and winter [45]. Fall burning of grain stubble destroys protective foraging cover [60]. Marsh vegetation may provide the only early nesting cover in some areas. Burning of marshes just prior to the nesting season is especially harmful to ring-necked pheasants [45]. Remnant tracts of sagebrush in southern Idaho provide important winter loafing and escape cover for ring-necked pheasants. Fire may cause sagebrush to revert to grasslands that do not provide ring-necked pheasant winter habitat, and it may take 15 to 20 years for a useful shrub component to reestablish in a dryland setting [42]. Long-term effects - Although ring-necked pheasants may be negatively affected by fire the first postfire year, periodic disturbance of stands is desirable and often essential to maintain ring-necked pheasant habitat. To provide residual grass-forb cover, suitable areas of cover must be established and then the stand must be "rejuvenated" every few years by fire or other disturbance [21]. On the Rathbun Wildlife Area in south-central Iowa, there was a marked decline in available nesting cover for ring-necked pheasants immediately following a spring prescribed fire. The quality of nesting cover then gradually improved in subsequent years until it reached or exceeded prefire and control levels. In addition to altering species composition and improving plant vigor, prescribed burning removed accumulated litter resulting in an overall improvement of nesting cover. Following a July prescribed fire, brood and renesting cover were reduced. Brood cover seemed to show rapid improvement due to the rapid growth of canopy-forming forbs such as common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and goldenrod (Solidago spp.). Nesting cover improved gradually in ensuing years [27]. FIRE USE : Prescribed burning can be used to maintain ring-necked pheasant habitat [3,62]. In some areas, prescribed burning to improve sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) habitat has also improved habitat for ring-necked pheasants [6,59]. Cover must always be available for nesting, brood-rearing, loafing, and roosting. If ring-necked pheasant habitat is burned, alternate cover must be available. Westmeier [62] suggests the following 3-year management rotation for ring-necked pheasant habitat in Illinois: first year - no disturbance second year- March fire (possibly followed by July haying or light grazing) third year - light grazing, rotary mowing, or seed harvesting (by combine) in late summer or fall. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Phasianus colchicus
REFERENCES : 1. American Ornithologists' Union. 2004. The A.O.U. check-list of North American birds, 7th edition, [Online]. American Ornithologists' Union (Producer). Available: [2005, January 10]. [50863] 2. Austin, Raymond Richard. 1973. Habitat diversity as related to pheasant use in a game management area in northwestern Montana. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 63 p. Thesis. [24068] 3. Baxter, William L. 1984. Intensive pheasant management on the Harlan County Reservoir: a synopsis. In: Dumke, Robert T.; Stiehl, Richard B.; Kahl, Richard B., eds. Perdix III: Gray partridge and ring-necked pheasant workshop: Proceedings; 1983 March 28-30; Campbellsport, WI. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: 158-160. [24086] 4. Baxter, William L.; Wolfe, Carl W. 1973. Life history and ecology of the ring-necked pheasant in Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Tech. Publications. Lincoln, NE. 58 p. [24065] 5. Beckwith, Stephen L. 1954. 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