Phun Pheasant Phacts
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 the popular and pretty pheasant.
- Pheasants are not native to North America. They are originally from Asia. There are accounts of pheasants being brought to the U.S. in the 1770s, but their first real introduction was in 1881 when Judge Owen Nickerson Denny, a U.S. consul to China who liked the taste of pheasant meat, shipped 60 ringed-neck pheasants from China to Washington state. A majority of the birds survived the ocean crossing, but most died during the overland trip from Washington to Denny’s home state of Oregon. The few surviving birds were released on the lower Columbia River. Denny released more pheasants in 1882 and 1884 and they flourished in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Today, ringed-neck pheasants have been released in practically every U.S. state.
- The ring-necked pheasant is South Dakota’s state bird, one of only three U.S. state birds that are a non-native species. The other two states are Rhode Island (the Rhode Island red chicken) and Delaware (the Delaware blue hen).
- In captivity, ring-necked pheasants can live 11 to 18 years. In the wild, their average lifespan is 3 years.
- Native to central Vietnam, the Vietnam pheasant is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. High levels of hunting pressure and lowland forest deterioration have driven the bird’s decline. The remaining wild population of Vietnam pheasants is likely extremely small and fragmented.
- Pheasants nest on the ground, and when startled, will burst to the sky in a “flush.” They can fly fast (up to 60 miles per hour when chased) 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.
- 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.