Phasianus colchicus (common pheasant)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Principal Source
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Phasianus colchicus
Preferred Common Name
- common pheasant
International Common Names
- English: farmed game production: pheasants; game pheasant; pheasant; pheasant, common; ring-necked pheasant; true pheasant
- Spanish: faisán vulgar; faisante
- French: faisan; faisan commun; faisan de Colchide
- Russian: obyknovennyi fazan
- Chinese: huán jing zhì
- Portuguese: faisão
Local Common Names
- Czech Republic: bažant obecný
- Denmark: fasan
- Finland: fasaani
- Germany: Fasan, Edel-; Fasan, Jagd-; Jagdfasan; Jagdtfasanen
- Hungary: facan
- Iceland: fashani
- Iran: gharghawol
- Italy: fagiano comune
- Japan: kouraikiji
- Netherlands: fazant
- Norway: fasan
- Poland: bazant
- Slovakia: bažant obycajný
- Sweden: fasan
DADIS local name
DADIS main name
- common Belgian pheasant
- ring neck pheasant
- PHSNCO (Phasianus colchicus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
P. colchicus is an attractive, colourful medium-sized bird with a native range in Eurasia. In its native range, it shows considerable variation in habitat, being found mainly in the overgrown edges of rivers, hilly areas and close to cultivation. Where it has been introduced, it is closely associated with grassland and agricultural land, often near to woodland edges. Due to its popularity as a game bird, it has been extensively and deliberately introduced to other areas, including Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia. The adverse effects of these introductions are not clear, and in general they appear to be small compared to the size of the introduced population. In the USA, there could be competitive effects on some threatened native birds, and in Japan some sources indicate that the species affects the native P. versicolor by hybridization.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Galliformes
- Family: Phasianidae
- Genus: Phasianus
- Species: Phasianus colchicus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The number of subspecies of Phasianus colchicus is unclear from the literature. According to Switzer (2011) and Zhang et al. (2013), there are 31 subspecies, and these are described according to morphological characters and plumage (Zhang et al., 2013), and often divided into either 5 or 6 groups (see table below).
Kozyrenko et al. (2009) suggested that the number of subspecies could be in the range 31–37, and found very low population genetic differences between three separate populations of Phasianus colchicus pallasi.
Recent phylogenetic investigations do not support the currently described subspecies, and there appears to be widespread hybridization, especially for the Chinese ring-necked pheasants (Qu et al., 2009; Zhang et al., 2013).
The Phasianus colchicus colchicus group.
Caucasus pheasants or Black-necked pheasants
P.c. colchicus, Linnaeus, 1758
Southern Caucasus Pheasant
P.c. persicus, Severtsov, 1875
P.c. septentrionalis, Lorenz, 1888
Northern Caucasian Pheasant
P.c. talischensis, Lorenz, 1888
Talisch Caucasian Pheasant
The Phasianus colchicus chrysomelas/principalis group
P.c. bianchii, Buturlin, 1904
P.c. chrysomelas, Severtsov, 1875
P.c. principalis, Sclater, PL, 1885
Northern Pheasant / Prince of Wales’ Pheasant
P.c. zerafschanicus, Tarnovski, 1893
P.c. zarudnyi, Buturlin, 1904
The Phasianus colchicus mongolicus group
Mongolian ring-necked pheasants/ Kirghiz pheasants
P.c. bergii, Zarudny, 1914
(considered to be identical to P.c. turcestanicus)
P.c. mongolicus, von Brandt, 1844
P.c. turcestanicus, Lorenz, 1896
Syr Daria Pheasant
The Phasianus colchicus tarimensis group
P.c. shawii, Elliot, 1870
P.c. tarimensis, Pleske, 1889
The Phasianus colchicus torquatus group
Chinese ring-necked pheasants/ Grey-rumped pheasants
P.c. alaschanicus, Alphéraky & Bianchi, 1908
P.c. decollatus, Swinhoe, 1870
P.c. elegans, Elliot, 1870
P.c. edzinensis, Sushkin, 1926
Gobi (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. formosanus, Elliot, 1870
Formosan (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. hagenbecki, Rothschild, 1901
Kobdo (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. karpowi, Buturlin, 1904
Korean (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. kiangsuensis, Buturlin, 1904
P.c. pallasi, Rothschild, 1903
Manchurian (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. rothschildi, La Touche, 1922
P.c. satscheuensis, Pleske, 1892
Satchu (Ring-necked) Pheasant
P.c. sohokotensis, Buturlin, 1908
P.c. strauchi, Przevalski, 1876
P.c. suehschanensis, Bianchi, 1906
P.c. takatsukasae, Delacour, 1927
Tonkinese (Ring-necked) pheasant
P.c. torquatus, Gmelin, JF, 1789
Chinese (Ring-necked) pheasant
P.c. vlangalii, Przevalski, 1876
The green pheasant, Phasianus versicolor, also known as the Japanese Pheasant, was previously considered to be a subspecies of P. colchicus, although now it is considered to be a separate species (BirdLife International, 2015c; McGowan et al., 2013). In Japan, where P. versicolor is native, introduced P. colchicus does not always thrive, potentially due to competition from P. versicolor, and the two do not hybridize particularly successfully (McGowan et al., 2013). (However, P. c. karpowi is listed as an invasive species with a hybridization impact on P. versicolor by some authorities -- NIES, 2015). In Hawaii, where both P. colchicus and P. versicolor are introduced, hybridization is successful (McGowan et al., 2013).
When considered to be part of P. colchicus, P. versicolor was allocated to a sixth group, the Phasianus colchicus versicolor group with four subspecies (see table below).
Phasianus versicolor versicolor, Vieillot, 1825,
(P. c. versicolor)
Kyushu Green (Ring-necked) Pheasant
Phasianus versicolor robustipes, Kuroda Sr, 1919
(P. c. robustipes)
Northern Green (Ring-necked) Pheasant
Phasianus versicolor tanensis, Kuroda Sr, 1919
(P. c. tanensis)
Pacific Green (Ring-necked) Pheasant
Phasianus versicolor tohkaidi, Momiyama, 1922
Shikoku Green (Ring-necked) Pheasant
Switzer (2011) does consider P. versicolor to be part of P. colchicus, and describes two main groups of P. colchicus: colchicus and versicolor. Colchicus (described as having barred, coppery/red/yellow mantle and underparts, and a prominent neck ring) is found in mainland Eurasia, and versicolor (described as green on the neck, breast and upper belly and without the neck ring) as native to Japan and introduced to Hawaii.
DescriptionTop of page
There is a high degree of sexual dimorphism in P. colchicus, with the male bird being typically larger and more colourful than the smaller brown female. Males typically have multicoloured plumage with long, pointed and barred tails with heads ranging from glossy dark green to iridescent purple (Switzer, 2011). The RSPB (2015) describe the males as having rich chestnut, golden-brown and black markings on the tail and body with a dark green head and red face wattling; there may or may not be a white neck ring, and males are conspicuous and noisy (Elphick and Woodward, 2003). The female is described by the RSPB (2015) as mottled, with paler brown and black (and with a shorter tail and no wattles or pinnae, the latter being the tufts of feathers behind the eyes that the males have – Robertson, 1988).
Due to breeding and hybridization with P. versicolor, there are also forms with dark plumage, known as melanistic (mutant) pheasants.
DistributionTop of page
BirdLife International (2015b) lists the native range of European P. colchicus as: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and lists countries in Europe where it was introduced as: Albania; Andorra; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland, Rep. of; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom – i.e. most European countries.
Switzer (2011) lists the native range as extending from the Caspian Sea, east across central Asia to China, including Korea, Japan (although this refers to P. versicolor) and Burma [Myanmar]. The species has been introduced to Europe, North America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, and in North America it is mostly established on mid-latitude agricultural land (Switzer, 2011).
Lever (2005) lists the natural range of P. colchicus as the southern Palaearctic and north-eastern Oriental regions -- in Eastern Europe in parts of the Caucasus Mountains, and in Asia from northern Asia Minor east to Korea, China and Taiwan. Lever (2005) lists the naturalized range as Europe (British Isles, Continental Europe), Asia (Japan), North America (Canada, Mexico, USA), West Indies, South America (Chile), Australasia (Australia, New Zealand), Atlantic Ocean (St. Helena), Indian Ocean (Mascarene Islands), and the Pacific Ocean (French Polynesia, Hawaiian Islands), although the continued presence of the species in a few countries is uncertain.
In North America, populations are established on most mid-latitude agricultural lands from southern Canada to Utah and California to the New England states, and south to Virginia (Giudice and Ratti, 2015).
In Japan, P. c. karpowi was introduced for hunting, and its range now is described as: Hokkaido, Honshu (the Pacific side of Kanto to Tokai Districts, Nara), Shikoku (Ehime), Kyushu (Fukuoka, Miyazaki, mainland Kagoshima Prefectures, Tsushima, and Osumi), and Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (NIES, 2015).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Armenia||Present||Native||BirdLife International, 2015a; Clements et al., 2014||Phasianus colchicus colchicus in the S; 100–200 pairs|
|Azerbaijan||Present||Native||BirdLife International, 2015a; Clements et al., 2014||Phasianus colchicus colchicus in the NE; 1000–2500 pairs|
|China||Widespread||Native||Qu et al., 2009; Switzer, 2011||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Anhui||Present||Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Beijing||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Chongqing||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Fujian||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Gansu||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group: P.c. satscheuensis in the west, P. c. sohokhotensis at Soho-Khoto Oasis and Qilian Shan, P. c. strauchi in the S|
|-Guangdong||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Guangxi||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Guizhou||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Hainan||Absent, unreliable record||Qu et al., 2009; Zhang et al., 2014|
|-Hebei||Present||Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Heilongjiang||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Henan||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Hubei||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Hunan||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Jiangsu||Present||Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Jilin||Present||Qu et al., 2009; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group|
|-Liaoning||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||The P.c. torquatus group: P. c. karpowi in the N and P. c. decollatus|
|-Macau||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Nei Menggu||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Ningxia||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Qinghai||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Shaanxi||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P. c. torquatus group (P. c. kiangsuensis; P. c. strauchi in the S)|
|-Shandong||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015|
|-Shanghai||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Shanxi||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Sichuan||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P.c. torquatus group (P. c. suehschanensis in the NW, P. c. elegans in the W, P. c. decollatus)|
|-Tianjin||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Tibet||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|-Xinjiang||Present||Kulikova et al., 2002; Qu et al., 2009|
|-Yunnan||Present||Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P. c. torquatus group (P. c. decollatus in the NE, P. c. rothschildi in the E)|
|-Zhejiang||Widespread||Qu et al., 2009||P. c. torquatus group|
|Georgia (Republic of)||Localised||Native||BirdLife International, 2015a; Clements et al., 2014||P. c. colchicus in the E|
|Iran||Localised||Not invasive||Zarringhabaie et al., 2012; Clements et al., 2014|
|Japan||Present||Introduced||Qu et al., 2009; Switzer, 2011||Native P. versicolor formerly considered to be a subspecies of P. colchicus|
|-Hokkaido||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Eguchi and Amano, 2004; eBird, 2015; NIES, 2015||Phasianus colchicus karpowi|
|-Honshu||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015; NIES, 2015||P. c. karpowi introduced; native P. versicolor formerly considered to be a subspecies of P. colchicus|
|-Kyushu||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015; NIES, 2015||P. c. karpowi introduced; native P. versicolor formerly considered to be a subspecies of P. colchicus|
|-Ryukyu Archipelago||Localised||Introduced||1930s or later||Invasive||eBird, 2015; NIES, 2015||Phasianus colchicus karpowi on Amami, Okinowa and Sakishima Islands.|
|-Shikoku||Introduced||1930s or later||Invasive||NIES, 2015||Phasianus colchicus karpowi, Ehime|
|Kazakhstan||Localised||Kulikova et al., 2002; Clements et al., 2014|
|Korea, DPR||Present||Native||Switzer, 2011; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P. c. karpowi|
|Korea, Republic of||Widespread||Native||Switzer, 2011; eBird, 2015; NIES, 2015||P. c. karpowi|
|Kyrgyzstan||Localised||Kulikova et al., 2002; eBird, 2015||Phasianus colchicus mongolicus at Tian Shan and the Trans-Ile Alatau Mountains|
|Mongolia||Localised||Clements et al., 2014||P. c. hagenbecki in the NW, P. c. edzinensis in S, P. c. kiangsuensis in the SE|
|Taiwan||Widespread||Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||P. c. formosanus|
|Turkey||Localised||Native||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||100–500 native pairs; 1000–5000 non-native pairs|
|United Arab Emirates||Localised||eBird, 2015|
|Uzbekistan||Localised||Kulikova et al., 2002; Clements et al., 2014||Phasianus colchicus zerafschanicus in south Uzbekistan (Bukhara and Zerafshan Valley); Phasianus colchicus mongolicus at Tian Shan|
|Vietnam||Localised||Clements et al., 2014||P. c. torquatus near the border with China; P. c. rothschildi and P. c. takatsukasae in the N.|
|Saint Helena||Present||Introduced||1500s||Lever, 2005||A small but stable population remains|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Alberta||Localised||Introduced||1908||McLash, 2008; eBird, 2015||In the south|
|-British Columbia||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the south|
|-Manitoba||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the extreme SW|
|-New Brunswick||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the south|
|-Nova Scotia||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-Ontario||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the extreme SW|
|-Prince Edward Island||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-Quebec||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the extreme south|
|-Saskatchewan||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the extreme south|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Alaska||Localised||eBird, 2015||Near Homer|
|-Arizona||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the south|
|-District of Columbia||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-Hawaii||Widespread||Introduced||1865||Lever, 2005; Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||On all main islands. P.c. mongolicus introduced in 1865; P.c. torquatus introduced in 1875 to all main islands. P. versicolor also introduced|
|-Iowa||Present||Riley et al., 1998; eBird, 2015|
|-Michigan||Present||Introduced||1918||Flegel, 1996; eBird, 2015||Introduced as a game bird|
|-Nebraska||Present||Matthews et al., 2012; eBird, 2015|
|-New Hampshire||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-New Jersey||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-New Mexico||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-New York||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-North Carolina||Localised||eBird, 2015||Near Uwharrie National Forest, in Croatan National Forest, Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, Bodie Island|
|-North Dakota||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-Oklahoma||Localised||eBird, 2015||In the N and W|
|-Oregon||Widespread||Introduced||1881||McLash, 2008; eBird, 2015|
|-Rhode Island||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-South Dakota||Widespread||eBird, 2015|
|-West Virginia||Localised||eBird, 2015|
Central America and Caribbean
|Bahamas||Localised||Introduced||1950s||Lever, 2005||Possibly established on Eleuthera|
|Dominican Republic||Localised||Introduced||1950s||Lever, 2005||P.c. torquatus may survive in the hills near Cabo Rojo|
|Chile||Localised||Introduced||1886/1914||Not invasive||Jaksic, 1998||Introduced in 1886 in Coquimbo using birds from Britain. Assumed to have died out around 1900. Reintroduced 1914 to Cautín using birds from Germany. Now found near Illapel, Cautín, and Valdivia.|
|Andorra||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||Low numbers|
|Austria||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||50,000–100,000 pairs|
|Belarus||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||30–50 pairs|
|Belgium||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||10,000–50,000 pairs|
|Bosnia-Hercegovina||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||60,000–90,000 pairs|
|Bulgaria||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||8,000–14,000 pairs|
|Croatia||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||50,000–100,000 pairs|
|Czech Republic||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||126,000–252,000 pairs|
|Denmark||Present||Introduced||Jørgensen et al., 1999; IUCN, 2015|
|Finland||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||8400–16,000 pairs|
|France||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||177,000–283,000 pairs|
|Germany||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; Sodeikat et al., 1995; eBird, 2015||200,000–295,000 pairs|
|Greece||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; Sfougaris et al., 1996||500–2,000 pairs|
|Hungary||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||306,403–339,419 pairs|
|Ireland||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||147,347–350,140 pairs|
|Italy||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; Santilli and Bagliacca, 2011; eBird, 2015||Widespread in N & central areas; 1000–100,000 pairs|
|Latvia||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||Low numbers|
|Liechtenstein||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||Low numbers|
|Luxembourg||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||10–30 pairs|
|Macedonia||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||300–2000 pairs|
|Moldova||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||8500–10,000 pairs|
|Montenegro||Present||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a||50–200 pairs|
|Netherlands||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||47,368–56,842 pairs|
|Norway||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||In the south; 500 pairs|
|Poland||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||340,000–420,000 pairs|
|Portugal||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||0–50 pairs|
|Romania||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||50,000–250,000 pairs|
|Russian Federation||Present||Native||BirdLife International, 2015a||4500–5850 native pairs; 12,000–25,000 non-native pairs|
|-Russian Far East||Present||Kulikova et al., 2002; Kozyrenko et al., 2009||Phasianus colchicus pallasi in the south|
|-Southern Russia||Localised||Clements et al., 2014||Phasianus colchicus septentrionalis in the Caucaus region|
|Serbia||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||40,000–50,000 pairs|
|Slovakia||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||20,000–40,000 pairs|
|Slovenia||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||9000–13,000 pairs|
|Spain||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||370 pairs|
|-Balearic Islands||Localised||Introduced||eBird, 2015||Mallorca|
|Sweden||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||In the south; 25,000–45,000 pairs|
|Switzerland||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||40-60 pairs|
|UK||Widespread||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; Stoate, 2002; eBird, 2015||2,300,000 pairs|
|Ukraine||Localised||Introduced||BirdLife International, 2015a; eBird, 2015||Mostly the south; 23,000–30,000 pairs|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Qu et al., 2009|
|-New South Wales||Localised||Introduced||Lever, 2005||In south and west|
|-South Australia||Localised||Introduced||1960/1||Lever, 2005; eBird, 2015||Near Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges|
|-Tasmania||Present||Introduced||1910-1960s||Lever, 2005; eBird, 2015|
|-Victoria||Present||Introduced||Lever, 2005; eBird, 2015|
|-Western Australia||Localised||Introduced||1897-1960s||Lever, 2005; eBird, 2015||Including Rottnest Island|
|French Polynesia||Absent, unreliable record||Lever, 2005||Status unknown|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Lever, 2005; Qu et al., 2009; Clements et al., 2014; eBird, 2015||Widespread on North Island, more localized on South Island|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
P. colchicus has been widely introduced, for hunting or food, to Europe, North America and other areas, from its native range in Asia. Since many introductions happened centuries ago, it is difficult to know precisely when this happened. Some of the known introductions are listed in the History of Introduction table or mentioned in the Distribution table. It is possible that the species was introduced to what is now the UK in the 11th century, since that is when the first documentary evidence of its presence there occurs (as a food source) (Lever, 2005; Yardley, 2009). The UK now has the largest population of P. colchicus in Europe (BirdLife International, 2015a).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||1855-1960s||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Lever (2005)||Several introductions between 1855 and 1960s. First attempts in Victoria only temporarily successful; later introductions to Tasmania and S. Australia successful|
|Bahamas||1950s||Lever (2005)||Possibly established on Eleuthera|
|Chile||UK||1886||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||No||Jaksic (1998)||Died out by 1900|
|Chile||Germany||1914||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Jaksic (1998)||Small population: ‘hardly found in the feral state’|
|Dominican Republic||1950s||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Lever (2005)||Some may survive on Hispaniola in the hills near Cabo Rojo|
|New Zealand||1842-1910||Yes||Several introductions over the years|
|Oregon||1881||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||McLash (2008)|
|UK||11th cent||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Lever (2005)||Date and reason uncertain; possbly introduced in 11th centrury|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
P. colchicus has already been widely introduced to Europe, North America, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and other areas. Since it can utilize various habitats (BirdLife International, 2015b), wherever the birds are managed as game near to suitable wild habitat it is possible that they could escape and become naturalized.
HabitatTop of page
P. colchicus occupy grassland and farmland habitats, preferring relatively open cover, such as grass and stubble fields with nearby trees or bushes for cover (Switzer, 2011). As generalists, they will though occupy a range of habitat types, except for dense tropical or alpine forests or very dry areas (Switzer, 2011). They prefer areas near to water although they can obtain water from dew, insects and succulent vegetation (Switzer, 2011).
In its natural range, P. colchicus shows considerable variation in habitat, being found mainly in the overgrown edges of rivers, hilly areas close to cultivation and cultivated flat land (BirdLife International, 2015b).
P. colchicus has a range territory size of 0.8–3.2 km2 (Switzer, 2011).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Principal habitat|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat|
|Natural grasslands||Principal habitat|
|Scrub / shrublands||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
P. colchicus have a diploid number of 81 and 82 for females and males, respectively, with the sex chromosomes always unpaired in females (Castillo et al., 2010).
The complete mitochondrial genome of P. colchicus is 16,692 bp long and is composed of 13 typical protein coding genes, 22 tRNA genes, 2 rRNA genes and 1 putative control region (Li et al., 2013).
Kozyrenko et al. (2009) suggest that the number of subspecies could be in the range 31–37, and found very low population genetic differences between three separate populations of Phasianus colchicus pallasi. Phylogenetic studies on Chinese subspecies of P. colchicus have not supported the subspecies (Qu et al., 2009; Zhang et al., 2013).
P. colchicus have a polygamous mating system, where males have a harem of females and take no part in rearing the chicks (McLash, 2008). Males actively defend a territory and crow in an attempt to attract females to mate with (McLash, 2008). Females chose to mate with males with intermediate similarity of histocompatibility complex (Baratti et al., 2012) and with long tails and ear tufts (Switzer, 2011).
The females are not territorial (Switzer, 2011), construct a nest on the ground, and lay 6-14 eggs (McLash, 2008) (7-15 eggs according to Switzer, 2011; 9-14 eggs in the native range in Azerbaijan, according to BirdLife International, 2015b), laying one egg a day (Switzer, 2011). Larger clutches occur when more than one female lays her eggs in the same nest (Switzer, 2011). The nest is a shallow depression in the ground, often lined with plant material (BirdLife International, 2015b).
Hatching can take 23–28 days and fledging takes 7–12 days, with the time to complete independence being 70–80 days (Switzer, 2011). The young are precocial and are able to run around and eat soon after hatching (McLash, 2008; Switzer, 2011). Sexual maturity occurs at 1 year old (Switzer, 2011).
The breeding season can be highly variable in both native and introduced ranges (McGowan et al., 2013). Breeding occurs once a year and the season extends from March to June (Switzer, 2011). In the native range in Azerbaijan, egg-laying occurs in April and May (BirdLife International, 2015b).
P. colchicus can typically live for 11–18 years in captivity, and approximately 3 years in the wild (Switzer, 2011). Males may have an annual survival rate of 7%, compared with 21-46% for females. These figures can be lower where hunting occurs (Switzer, 2011).
P. colchicus have a range territory size of 0.8–3.2km2, with the range being smaller in winter than during the nesting season. They are social birds and can form flocks in the autumn in areas of food and cover (Switzer, 2011).
They spend most of their time on the ground (where they scratch for food in the undergrowth with their bills) and in trees, and can run swiftly, holding their tails up at a 45 degree angle. They have a strutting gait when walking and are strong fliers, with the ability to take off suddenly. They use dust bathing to help remove skin cells, excess oil and old feathers (Switzer, 2011).
Mass migrations may occur in the native range but in its introduced range the species is sedentary (BirdLife International, 2015b). P. colchicus pallasi in the Russian Far East undergoes seasonal migrations of 200-300 km in a straight line in extremely severe and snowy winters. P. c. mongolicus in the mountains of Central Asia has also been recorded as undergoing seasonal migration (Kulikova et al., 2002).
Population Size and Structure
The estimated global population size of P. colchicus is very large (although decreasing), at 45– 300 million individuals, with the population in Europe estimated at 10.2– 14.1 million (BirdLife International, 2015c).
P. colchicus have a diet consisting of waste grain, weed seeds, fruits, leaves and insects (McLash, 2008). In the native range, they feed on plant matter such as fruits, seeds, leaves, buds and a small amount of animal matter such as insects (BirdLife International, 2015b). Where the species is introduced it is an opportunistic omnivore, feeding on a diverse range of food, but preferring energy-rich items such as cultivated grains, mast and fruits (BirdLife International, 2015b). Crops eaten include maize (Zea mays), wheat (Triticum), barley (Hordeum vulgare) and flax (Linum) (Switzer, 2011). In North America, weed seeds eaten include foxtail (Setaria), ragweed (Ambrosia) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus) (Switzer, 2011). Fruits eaten include wild grape (Vitis), apples (Malus), and blackberries (Rubus). The birds also eat grasshoppers (Orthoptera), caterpillars (Lepidoptera), crickets (Gryllidae), and snails (Gastropoda) (Switzer, 2011).
P. colchicus prefer areas near to water, although they can obtain water from dew, insects and succulent vegetation (Switzer, 2011).
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Accipiter cooperii||Predator||not specific|
|Accipiter gentilis||Predator||not specific|
|Accipiter nisus||Predator||not specific|
|Borrelia burgdorferi||Parasite||not specific|
|Bubo virginianus||Predator||not specific|
|Buteo buteo||Predator||not specific|
|Buteo jamaicensis||Predator||not specific|
|Buteo lagopus||Predator||not specific|
|Buteo lineatus||Predator||not specific|
|Canis latrans||Predator||not specific|
|Canis lupus familiaris||Predator||not specific|
|Chelydra serpentina||Predator||not specific|
|Circus hudsonius||Predator||not specific|
|Falco peregrinus||Predator||not specific|
|Ixodes ricinus||Parasite||not specific|
|Meles meles||Predator||not specific|
|Mephitis mephitis||Predator||not specific|
|Neovison vison||Predator||not specific|
|Newcastle disease virus||Pathogen||not specific|
|Procyon lotor||Predator||not specific|
|Vulpes vulpes||Predator||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Pheasants are susceptible to the viral infection Newcastle disease (ND) (Jørgensen et al., 1999; Aldous and Alexander, 2008). Between 1994 and 2005, outbreaks of ND in pheasants were recorded in Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy and Northern Ireland (Aldous and Alexander, 2008). Pheasants are also susceptible to respiratory diseases caused by coronaviruses, which have been found to have a high degree of genetic similarity with the coronaviruses of chickens and turkeys (Cavanagh et al., 2002). In captivity, P. colchicus may be susceptible to marble spleen disease caused by type II avian adenovirus (Lee et al., 2001).
P. colchicus are susceptible to several nematode parasites (Gassal and Schmäschke, 2006; Santilli and Bagliacca, 2011). Other parasites include: Borrelia burgdorferi, ticks (Ixodes ricinus), fleas (Siphonaptera), tapeworms (Railletina) (Switzer, 2011) and lice (Mallophaga) (Dik and Uslu, 2006, referring to captive birds in Turkey; Rak et al., 1975, reporting Amyrsidea hexapilosus [Amyrsidea (Argimenopon) perdicis] in wild birds in Iran).
In the UK, P. colchicus are predated by buzzards (Buteo buteo), owls, sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and other mammals (Parrott, 2015; Kenward et al., 2001). A study in the UK and Austria found nest predation by corvids, foxes (Vulpes vulpes), badgers (Meles meles) and other mammals (Draycott et al., 2008). In Sweden, goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) have also been shown to predate P. colchicus (Kenward et al., 1981). Predators recorded in North America include: domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), coyotes (Canis latrans), mink (Neovison vison), weasels (Mustela spp.), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), raccoons (Procyon lotor), great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), rough-legged hawks (Buteo lagopus), Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), northern harriers (Circus cyaneus [Circus hudsonius]) and snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) (Switzer, 2011).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Most introductions appear to be deliberate.
P. colchicus has been knowingly and extensively introduced to Europe, North America, Hawaii and other regions of the world as a game bird that has naturalized. In areas where it is managed as a game bird, it is intentionally released from pens into surrounding estates/countryside in large numbers for hunting (GWCT, 2015).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Animal production||Deliberate introduction as gamebird from Asia to Europe, N. America, Chile, Australia & New Zealand||Yes||Yes|
|Hunting, angling, sport or racing||Deliberate introduction as gamebird from Asia to Europe, N. America, Chile, Australia & New Zealand||Yes||Yes|
|Intentional release||Deliberate introduction as gamebird from Asia to Europe, N. America, Chile, Australia & New Zealand||Yes||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
P. colchicus has no major effects on crops, although there may be localized effects after captive-bred releases. Any small amount of local damage to crop plants in Europe and the USA is far outweighed by the economic value of the species (Lever, 2005). The species was said to be an agricultural pest on St Helena in the 1950s, although the population has declined substantially since then (Lever, 2005).
Due to the susceptibility of P. colchicus to Newcastle disease, and its potential to spread this to other birds, it can be a cause of economic losses if an embargo on poultry sales is imposed as a result of an outbreak (Switzer, 2011).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Where large numbers of pheasants are released for the hunting season, this sudden influx of birds could potentially affect local ecosystems. They could potentially deplete food sources for other animals, affect ground/hedge flora, and attract more predators to the environment (GWCT, 2015). Some research suggests that captive bred P. colchicus that are released into suitable habitat have an extremely low survival rate (Sodeikat, 1995), and that those that survive the shooting season do not breed well (GWCT, 2015), which might limit their effect.
It has been suggested that P. colchicus spread seeds of non-native plants on Hawaii, although they may also facilitate the dispersal and germination of indigenous species (Lever, 2005).
Impact on Biodiversity
Where large numbers are released to boost wild populations for the hunting season, this influx of birds could potentially reduce the diversity of ground/hedge flora, other grain- and seed-eating birds, and amphibians and reptiles (GWCT, 2015), although as mentioned above released birds may not survive or breed well.
Farm-reared P. colchicus that are managed and released could potentially spread parasites to wild populations (Santilli and Bagliacca, 2011).
A UK-based study found that management of wild P. colchicus as a gamebird on farmland had no effect on farmland passerine diversity, although for some species, individual numbers increased (Stoate, 2002). Areas that are managed as suitable habitat for P. colchicus may attract wildlife and so could have a positive impact on biodiversity. On the other hand, in the UK there are reports of continued persecution of raptors near game bird rearing and release sites (Smart et al., 2010).
In the USA, P. colchicus may have an inhibitory effect (as a competitor) on the Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus (classified as Near Threatened – IUCN, 2015) and may also affect the Greater Prairie-chicken Tympanuchus cupido (in whose nests they sometimes lay their own eggs, and which is classified as Vulnerable) (Lever, 2005). P. colchicus has also been recorded as a brood parasite of the Vulnerable Lesser Prairie-chicken T. pallidicinctus in Kansas, USA (Hagen et al., 2002). It is possible that exotic introductions have an effect on Attwater’s Greater Prairie-chicken Tympanuchus cupido attwateri, which is on the US list of endangered species, and prohibiting the introduction to public lands of exotic species such as P. colchicus has been proposed as an action to aid recovery of T. c. attwateri (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010).
P. colchicus may negatively affect Perdix perdix (grey partridge) through nest parasitism, habitat competition, disease transmission and aggressive behaviour (Switzer, 2011).
P. colchicus karpowi is listed as an invasive species with a hybridization impact on the native Japanese species P. versicolor by some authorities (NIES, 2015), although according to McGowan et al. (2013) the two do not hybridize particularly successfully.
If as has been suggested P. colchicus spread seeds of non-native plants on Hawaii (Lever, 2005), this could have an adverse effect on native biodiversity, although they may also facilitate the dispersal and germination of indigenous species (Lever, 2005). The species has had neglible impact on terrestrial invertebrates in Hawaii and does not compete with endemic bird species there (Lever, 2005).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Colinus virginianus||NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened) NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened)||Competition||Lever, 2005|
|Tympanuchus cupido||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Competition; Pest and disease transmission||Lever, 2005; Switzer, 2011|
|Tympanuchus cupido attwateri (Attwater's greater prairie chicken)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Texas||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010|
|Tympanuchus pallidicinctus||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Kansas||Hagen et al., 2002|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Highly mobile locally
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
UsesTop of page
P. colchicus is a food source throughout its range. Where it is managed for hunting, it is of economic benefit to land owners and local communities by attracting paying visitors to the area. There is a considerable national and international trade in chicks and viable eggs (Aldous and Alexander, 2008). A recent report (PACEC, 2012) found that game shooting (predominantly of pheasants) on Exmoor, UK, contributed £18 million per year to the UK economy, of which £4 million remained in the local area.
During the hunting/shooting season there is presumably a positive social benefit for the people involved. Since pheasants are attractive birds, they also have positive social benefits to people who are walking, birdwatching etc. in the countryside where they are likely to encounter them.
P. colchicus meat is a good nutritional source of iron -- 100g of drumstick can provide 23.6% of the recommended daily intake (Franco and Lorenzo, 2013).
It has been suggested that P. colchicus in Hawaii facilitate the dispersal and germination of indigenous plant species as well as introduced ones. In this way, it has been suggested that the species may help to restore degraded ecosystems on Maui (Lever, 2005).
Management of land for pheasants may benefit other species as well.
Uses ListTop of page
- Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)
Human food and beverage
- Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
P. colchicus is closely related to the Green Pheasant, Phasianus versicolor (once considered a subspecies of P. colchicus) (BirdLife International, 2015c). Male P. versicolor are described as having green necks, breasts and upper bellies, and do not have the white neck ring (Switzer, 2011). Similar species in Europe include the Golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus), distinguished by its shyer nature, and very bright red underparts, yellow head and lower back and finely barred tail (RSPB, 2015), and Lady Amherst’s pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae), easily distinguished by its white underbelly, yellow lower back edged in red and bare blueish skin on the face and legs (RSPB, 2015; Heinzel et al., 1998).
Females and juveniles of P. colchicus could potentially be mistaken for other pheasants (or other species such as partridges, although the long pointed tail should set them apart).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
There are no reports in the literature of any prevention and control measures against P. colchicus (even in Japan where P. c. karpowi is considered invasive), except for the suggestion in the USA that its introduction to public lands, along with that of other exotic species, should be prohibited to aid the recovery of the endangered Attwater's Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010). It is unlikely that the general public is aware of any issues with the bird as an introduced species, unless they are involved in activities where its presence would be noticed.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Several gaps in knowledge regarding the impacts of game bird management on non-target species have been identified by Mustin et al. (2001), including: ecological, economic and social trade-offs; effects of medications on non-target organisms; effects of predator control; the persecution of raptors; and biodiversity impacts (at a landscape level) of the release of game birds.
ReferencesTop of page
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Principal SourceTop of page
Draft datasheet under review
ContributorsTop of page
07/06/15 Original text for Invasive Species Compendium sections by:
Vicki Cottrell, consultant, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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