The Ring-necked Pheasant, a native of Asia, is one of the most successful and well-known introduced birds in North America. This species is exceptionally popular as an upland game bird throughout much of its range, and it may be the most studied species of Galliformes in the world.
The male Ring-necked Pheasant has a spectacular multicolored plumage, long tail, and chickenlike appearance that is difficult to confuse with any other North American bird. Both sexes are swift runners and strong flyers for short distances. Populations do best in hay and grain agricultural regions, especially areas with grassy field borders, wetlands, and numerous small patches of idle land with tall grass, forbs, and lesser amounts of brush and trees. Populations are established on most midlatitude agricultural lands from s. Canada to Utah, California to the New England states, and south to Virginia. This species is commonly raised in captivity and has been widely introduced; many scattered and small populations occur outside the normal range.
As with most other bird species, food and predation are important influences on population levels. Landscape and habitat features also influence demographic rates; dense winter cover (e.g., cattails in wetlands), for example, is especially important for survival during years with severe cold, wind, and heavy snowfall. The most serious limitation in most regions, however, is associated with changes in the agricultural industry from small multicrop farms to large monocultures with clean farming practices. Numerous nests are also destroyed annually by hay-mowing.
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