Pheasant
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One of the more popular types of upland birds, this native of China has proven itself capable of adapting quite nicely to its North American surroundings. The bird, closely related to the golden pheasant and Sichuan pheasant, eats mostly small grains, preferring to nosh on corn, but also eating soybeans, wheat, oats, insects, and weed seeds. Its favorite insect is the grasshopper, primarily because of its high protein content, which is conducive to the rapid growth and high energy levels it requires.

Ring-necks have a rather short life span, same as most upland game, usually living no more than two years. (In fact, more than 75% of all the birds killed by hunters in a season were hatched just the previous spring.)

They are a decent sized bird, with the cocks typically growing to 3 ft. in length and weighing as much as 3-lbs. Hens, on the other hand, are usually a full foot shorter, lengthwise, than the male and weigh almost a pound less.

p1.jpgMale ring-necks are easy to separate from female ring-necks due to their flashy colors and abundance of distinguishing features. The males have a big, copper-colored breast, a shiny metallic green-colored head, a red wattle around the eye, and perhaps their most easily identifiable characteristic, a bright white ring around the neck.
 
Hens are considerably less spectacular, visually, often being almost uniformly beige or cream-colored. They also have shorter tails than the males - the tail of the cock is often over 2 ft in length, covered with a pattern of black bars, while the female's is a good foot shorter than that.

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In addition to all of the obvious traits, males also have spurs, less visible spiky protrusions on the heel of their foot, that can help hunters determine their age. If the spur is small and still rather round, odds are the bird is less than a year old. If, however, the spur is longer and more pointed, it's a safe bet the bird is older than a year old. (Spurs can also be used to determine the sex of the bird, as hens have no spurs, only cocks do.)
 
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Besides making the ring-neck a rather photogenic breed of bird, the cock's bright colors are used to attract females and alert other males to its presence. And the drab appearance of the hen serves a purpose, as well - it acts as camouflage, helping her hide herself and the nest from the ever-watchful eyes of predators.

This type of pheasant is active right after first light, leaving its cover behind and heading to its morning feeding area. After feeding for two hours or so it sets off for loafing cover, usually the area immediately surrounding the feeding area, or it returns to the cover of their roost. The pheasant feed again late in the day, often just before sunset, after which they return to the roost for the night.

Depending on the habitat, ring-necks may not move all that much in the course of the day. If their roost provides enough food and cover, they may just remain there all day, but even when they leave the roost they are often never further than half a mile away.

Along with the proximity of food, hunting pressure and climatic conditions also dictate how far the bird strays from roosting cover. If there is a lot of hunting going on nearby or it is exceedingly cold or snowy, odds are the pheasant will stay bottled up under roosting cover for several days. If, however, it is rather wet or warm out, the birds will tend to leave the roost for a majority of the day, spending their time scratching for food and gathering gravel from nearby ditches and roadsides.
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