Pheasant (Colchicus species) Ring-necked pheasant.
Sub Species: Various
Common names: Common pheasant, Ring-necked pheasant.
The first English pheasants arrived in Wellington in 1842 and further liberations resulted in the bird being abundant in both islands by 1870.Yje liberated birds were derived from various sub-species. Most of our birds resemble the ring–necked pheasant from China, torquartus, especially in having a broad white neck ring.
The pheasant population then plunged into a remarkable decline, from which it has never recovered, due to eating poisoned grain used for rabbit eradication followed by the release of stoats and weasels to quell the rabbit plague. However, there are still enough pheasants for hunting, assisted in some areas by annual releases of hand reared stock.
Pheasants are found in a variety of habitats but mostly in open farmland near rough scrub, hedges or trees that provide essential escape cover. They feed on a wide range of berries, seeds and other vegetation. Cock pheasants are polygamous and mate with several hens. Nesting usually begins in September and may continue through to January. Six to 14 eggs are laid in a hollow in the ground located in thick cover. Pheasants have no down and dislike damp conditions.
Pheasants are vocal birds particularly towards the end of the season as territorial disputes are settled. As a result they can be easily located. They have good hearing and sight and successful hunting requires elements of silence and surprise. When pheasants are flushed they often glide for quite a distance before landing and running at high speed. Often they will sit tight in dense vegetation.
The male bird size up to 80 cm., 1400 g and females 60 cm., 1200 g. The male colour is rich orange and red, glossy dark green head, red facial wattles with white ring around neck; females pale brown mottled with dark brown.
Only cock pheasants can be hunted. The North Island season begins in May and continues throughout August. In some regions the season is a month shorter and in the South Island pheasant shooting may only be permitted for a single day
A male pheasant.photographed by Brian Moore, Click to enlarge then enlage again by with another click..