The Pheasant is an unmistakable, long-tailed gamebird and is common throughout Britain, western and northern Europe. Pheasants are found in woodland, farmland, marshes and even reedbeds. They are often seen, particularly in the early morning or late evening, wandering serenely across gardens in more rural areas.
Pheasants were introduced into some parts of Europe, from Asia, as long as 2000 years ago, and have been present in northern Europe for over 200 years. Many thousands are released, for shooting purposes, on estates throughout Britain and the interbreeding can produce a wide variety of colour forms. Particularly attractive is the melanistic form, not uncommon in some? areas, in which the male has the entire plumage apart from wings and tail strikingly blackish, with a strong green gloss to the upperparts and a blue-purple gloss below. Melanistic females also appear a much darker rufous-brown.
Female Pheasants are highly variable creatures, although basic plumage patterns are similar whatever the colour. They are always smaller and shorter-tailed than the male.
Male Pheasants are also variable in appearance, but the most commonly encountered are the birds with distinctive white neck collars shown here.
When they emerge from cover, Pheasants make a great deal of noise – crashing and clattering from the undergrowth,whilst calling their distinctive rapid fire ‘kutuk, kutuk, kutuk’ as they go. Their flight pattern is short and low to the ground, with rapid flaps and long glides.
This female shows a brownish crown and nape with fine black bars. The face is buffy-brown with a dark mask which contrasts with the pale, semi-neck collar. The mantle, rump and wings are variably marked blackish on a fawn base color, and the uppertail shows several black bars, widely spaced. The underparts are pale buff, with dark marks on the flanks and undertail.
This male bird shows a deep bottle-green head and ‘ear tufts’ with an obvious patch of red facial skin. It lacks the white neck collar. The mantle is a rich orange-red colour, variably blotched and spotted with cream, black and white. The rump is greyishbrown and the long spiky tail is warm brown, with coppertoned outer feathers. The central feathers show thin, broadly spaced bars to the tip.