Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasants were introduced to Minnesota between 1905 and 1915.  The first hunting season occurred in 1924.  Populations peaked between 1940 and 1960.  Since then populations have fallen, probably due to intensive farming (Janssen, Birds in Minnesota).  According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "keeping a stable pheasant population is difficult in Minnesota. There aren't enough grasslands for the birds to nest in and not enough cattail marshes where they can hide from cold winter weather. Pheasant die-offs are common during extreme winters."  Nevertheless, Minnesota hunters annually harvest some 350,000 pheasants.

I flushed this hen pheasant from a roadside near Northfield on a chilly, 15 degree F 19th of December.  The bird flew from the roadside and into corn stubble, where it hunched down in the snow.  I suspect it was trying to be inconspicuous.

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