Any of about 50 species of mostly long-tailed birds in the family Phasianidae (order Galliformes), chiefly Asian but naturalized elsewhere. Most species inhabit open woodlands and brushy fields. All have a hoarse call. The feet and lower legs are unfeathered. Females are inconspicuous. Most males are strikingly coloured and have one or more leg spurs, and some have a fleshy facial ornament. Males sometimes fight to the death for a harem of hens. Male ring-necked or common pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), 35 in. (90 cm) long, have a streaming tail, coppery breast, purplish green neck, and ear tufts; they are widespread in the northern U.S. Japanese green pheasants (P. versicolor) call in concert when an earthquake is imminent.
Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)—H. Reinhard/Bruce Coleman Inc.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on pheasant, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up pheasant? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.