The word pheasant can apply to large, colorful long-tailed birds of the family Phasianidae. World wide there are 49 species of pheasant. Pheasants originated in Asia and inhabit a wide variety of terrain from snowy mountains to steamy jungles. In North America they have been widely introduced to many areas for sport hunting.
The Common Pheasant aka Chinese Ringneck Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a widly introduced gamebird from Asia. The adult pheasant has a long tail which often accounts for half the total length. The male pheasant is know as a cock or rooster. He has has barred bright brown plumage and green, purple and white markings, often including a white ring around the neck, hence the name ringneck pheasant, and the head is green with distinctive red patches. This bird is also called English Pheasant, or just Pheasant. The males are polygynous and are often accompanied by a harem of several females.
The female or hen has much more drab dull colors similar to that of the partridge. The birds are found on wooded land and scrub. They feed on the ground on grain, leaves and invertebrates, but roost in trees at night. They nest on the ground, producing a clutch of around ten eggs over a two-three week period in April to June. The incubation period is about 23-26 days. The chicks stay near the hen for several weeks after hatching but grow quickly, resembling adults by only 15 weeks of age.
While pheasants are able short-distance fliers, they prefer to run from danger but if startled they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive "whirring" wing sound. Their flight speed is slow at only about 30 mph when cruising but when chased they can fly up to 60 mph.
Although they are native to Asia they have been widely introduced elsewhere for the purpose of hunting.