South Dakota State Bird

Ring-necked Pheasant
South Dakota state bird: Ring-neckedPheasant Phasianus colchicus

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South Dakota State Bird Description:

  • Size: 20 to 28 inches (50 - 70 cm)
  • Wingspan: 22 - 34 inches (56 - 86 cm)
  • Weight: 17.65 to 105.8 ounces (500 - 3000 g)

The Ring-necked Pheasant is a medium to large sized bird,similar to a chicken.

The male has a bright green head with a bare, red faceand a white ring on its neck. The body is reddish brown on the back and the breast is maroon with flanks fading to orange. The wing feathers are reddish brown at the base fading to lighter brown near the tips.The long, pointed tail is brown with black barring.

The female is mottled brown all over with black spotson the back. The long, pointed tail is brown with black barring.


The Ring-necked Pheasant prefers agricultural areas, pastures, grassy woodland edges and bushy groves. In the winter they gather near food sources such as standing corn and dense field borders. In the spring, birds disperse into open areas and old field habitats.


Since their introduction in California in 1857,Ring-necked Pheasants have spread across the United States. They can now be found from southern Canada and across the northern United States from New England to Oregon and throughout portions of the southwest to northern Arizona and into the northern edge of Delaware.


Ring-necked Pheasants eat cultivated grains, corn, weed seeds, leaves, wild berries, nuts and insects.


Males will defend a territory and mate with several females.Courtship begins in February or March and lasts until August.

The female builds her nest on the ground in tall grass andweeds. The female scrapes out a depression in the ground and lines it with vegetation. The hen will lay about 12 eggs over a period of about two weeks. The incubation period lasts about 23 days.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the South Dakota State Bird:

  • When flushed, Ring-necked Pheasants quicklyrise vertically or diagonally to avoid collisions.
  • The life of the Ring-necked Pheasant isrelativity short. The average female lives around twenty months and the average male only about ten months. This is due in part because the flashy Ring-necked Pheasant is one of the most popular game birds among sportsmen. Also, eggs in nests and hatchelings can be affected by harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain.
  • Two hens may lay their eggs in the samenest. A hen may also lay her eggs in the nest of another ground nesting bird such as a Mallard, Gray Partridge, Turkey or Blue-winged Teal.

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