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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Phun Pheasant Phacts

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 Cover of Phun Pheasant Phacts Activity Sheet
CVM’s Office of Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Drug Development (OMUMS for short) works hard to make sure safe and effective drugs are available for minor species, like ferrets and pheasants.

  • Pheasants are not native to North America. They “immigrated” to the United States in 1881 when Judge Owen Nickerson Denny, a U.S. consul to China who liked the taste of pheasant meat, shipped 30 pheasants from China to his home in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Twenty-six survived the journey.
  • Seventeen of the 35 species of pheasant are on the endangered species list. Conservation efforts and raising pheasants in captivity have, so far, prevented any from going extinct.
  • The most abundant pheasant is the ring-necked or common pheasant. The ring-necked pheasant is South Dakota’s state bird.
  • Pheasants nest on the ground, and when startled, will burst to the sky in a “flush.” They can fly fast (up to 48 miles per hour) for short distances, but prefer to run and can get up to speeds of 8 to 10 miles per hour.
  • Pheasants do not migrate. They stay local year-round.
  • Male pheasants are roosters or cocks, and females are hens. One rooster usually has a harem of three to seven hens. A group of pheasants is called a nest, nide (nye), or bouquet.
  • Pheasants are hunted for sport and for meat. Because of their attractive plumage, some species of pheasant are kept as ornamental birds. There are both wild and farm-raised pheasants in the United States.
  • Pheasants are sexually dimorphic, meaning there are distinct differences between the sexes. Males are brightly colored and larger than the smaller brown females.
  • Pheasants are hardy birds, with an average lifespan of 15 to 25 years.
  • There are a small number of FDA-approved drugs to treat farm-raised pheasants that are sick. Most of the drugs are used to kill parasites, but a few are used to treat bacterial diseases. Pheasants are almost always given medication in their feed. If a medication is put in their water, they detect the taste and will drink from puddles in the field rather than their regular water.