Ring-Necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus
Global Range Map

Also known as “Common Pheasant”, this non-native bird is now widespread in the USA. Their natural range is in Asia and parts of eastern Europe, but introductions throughout the rest of Europe, North America, and other places have established them, to the point many now accept them as native. Virtually none of the introduced population is purebred and has been described as a stereotyped hybrid swarm.

North American Range Map

Taxonomists call out at least 29 subspecies of Ring-Necked Pheasant:

  • P. c. septentrionalis lives from the northern Caucasus to the Volga Delta (Russia).
  • P. c. colchicus lives in the
    Transcaucasia in eastern Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran.
  • P. c. talischensis lives in southeastern Transcaucasia and the Caspian lowlands of Iran.
  • P. c. persicus lives in southwestern Transcaspia in Turkmenistan and Iran.
  • P. c. turcestanicus lives in Kazakhstan.
  • P. c. mongolicus lives in northern Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan, and north through Kazakhstan to Lake Balkhash, and east to Xinjiang and Urumchi in western China.
  • P. c. principalis lives in Turkmenistan, northeastern Iran and northern Afghanistan.
  • P. c. chrysomelas lives in Uzbekistan, and adjacent Turkmenistan.
  • P. c. zerafschanicus lives in Uzbekistan.
  • P. c. zarudnyi lives on the on Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan border.
  • P. c. bianchii lives in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan.
  • P. c. shawii lives in western China.
  • P. c. tarimensis lives in western China.
  • P. c. hagenbecki lives in western Mongolia.
  • P. c. edzinensis lives in Inner Mongolia.
  • P. c. satscheuensis lives in northern China.
  • P. c. vlangalii lives in northern China.
  • P. c. alaschanicus lives in northern China.
  • P. c. sohokhotensis lives in northern China.
  • P. c. pallasi lives in southeastern Siberia, northeastern Korea and northeastern China.
  • P. c. karpowi lives in northeastern China.
  • P. c. kiangsuensis lives in northeastern China.
  • P. c. strauchi lives in central China.
  • P. c. elegans lives in south-central China.
  • P. c. decollatus lives in central China.
  • P. c. torquatus lives in eastern China.
  • P. c. rothschildi lives in southern China and northwestern Vietnam.
  • P. c. takatsukasae lives in southeastern China.
  • P. c. formosanus lives in Taiwan.

The flamboyant colors and behaviors of these birds endear them to most observers. More often, the crowing calls of the cock pheasants will reveal their presence before they give themselves to the eye. I’ve shared company with these birds in southern and northern California, as well as central New Mexico.

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