About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snapshot of a Ring-Necked Pheasant

A native of Asia, the Ring-necked Pheasant was introduced to Michigan in 1895 as a gamebird for hunters. Because pheasants thrive in a mix of cropland, hayland, grassland, wetland, and brush, their populations exploded. However, by the 1960’s farming practices began to change and the number of farms fell from 190,000 in 1940 to less than 60,000 by 1990. The amount of land farmed also decreased from more than 18 million acres in 1940 to less than 11 million acres in 1990. This change in the agricultural scene and the loss of habitat as well as predation, genetics, and overuse of pesticides, resulted in a sharp decrease of the pheasant population today.

Sometimes seen foraging in gardens, pheasants eat mostly seeds, corn kernels, and buds in the winter. Unfortunately cold snowy winters are a problem for the birds because they have featherless legs, unlike the native Ruffed Grouse. In very bad weather, pheasants are known to stay on a roost for several days without eating.

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