Common Pheasant – Phasianus colchicus


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Galiiformes
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • Genre: Phasianus
  • Species: Phasianus colchicus

Identification characters

It is a species of large bird that exhibits marked sexual dimorphism.

The male has a body length of 70 – 90 cm, of which the tail is 35 – 45 cm long. The general plumage colour is brownish, with black streaks on the breast and abdomen, blackish-white streaks on the back, The head and neck are greenish-metallic, sometimes with a white collar and with featherless areas on the sides of the head red. The tail is brownish, with transverse stripes along the length.

Females and juveniles have relatively uniform, brown, heavily streaked plumage.

Females have yellowish-brown plumage, with dark angular spots in the centre of the feathers, body length 55 – 70 cm. The tail, 20 – 25 cm long, is the one that best helps us recognise the female pheasant.

In Romania we find a mixture of hybrids of the breeds known in the native range of the species, generally divided into two groups: torquatus, in which the males have a complete white collar, and colchicus, with males lacking the white collar completely.


The pheasant is a clear example of a species introduced into Romania. Native to Asia for the most part, the pheasant was brought to Europe and America for hunting. The pheasant is thought to have been introduced to Europe as early as Roman times. Intense popular action has taken place since the Middle Ages, especially on the hunting grounds of noblemen.

The native range of the species is thought to be in Asia, fragmented from Georgia to eastern China, and in Europe, isolated in eastern Greece.

At present, the pheasant is present in Europe over most of the continent, except Iceland, much of Spain, central and northern Scandinavia, and in Russia it is found only in the south-west. The European population is between 4 140 000 and 5 370 000 breeding pairs, representing less than 55 of the world population, and appears to be increasing.

In Romania, the pheasant has been introduced in Romania for a very long time, before 1500 in western Transylvania and after 1900 in southern Romania. Today, the pheasant is a common species in Romania, found from the Danube lowlands to the hills. The population in Romania ranges from 346 494 to 369 659 breeding pairs.

Living environment and biology of the species

In its native range, this species occupies a wide range of habitats. It is found mainly in richly vegetated areas near rivers, hilly areas and on cultivated plains.

In the native range, the species may be migratory, but in areas where it has been introduced it is a sedentary species.

In the native range, the species feeds mainly on plant matter (fruit, seeds, leaves, shoots) and less on animals (mainly insects). In areas where it has been introduced, the pheasant is an opportunistic omnivore, consuming a wide range of high-calorie foods such as seeds and fruits, including those of cultivated plants. It can often be seen in open fields.

The pheasant nests solitarily. The nest is built in a hollow in the ground, lined with plant matter. The clutch, laid between April and June, consists of 8-15 eggs, rarely up to 18, usually 10-12. The incubation period is 22-27 days. The chicks leave the nest a few hours after hatching, but remain with their mother for several weeks. The chicks develop rapidly, after 12-14 days they become able to fly. At 15 weeks they are adult-like.

Threats and conservation measures

The pheasant may be threatened by habitat modification, fragmentation and loss, anthropogenic activities, poaching.

As an introduced and locally invasive species, no conservation measures are required.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editori), 2022, Atlas al speciilor de păsări de interes comunitar din România, ediția a II-a – Iubește păsările, salvează natura!, Proiect finanțat din Fondul European de Dezvoltare Regională prin Programul Operațional Infrastructură Mare 2014-2020, Ministerul Mediului, Apelor și Pădurilor- Direcția Biodiversitate, coordonare științifică Societatea Ornitologică Română și Asociația pentru Protecția Păsărilor și a Naturii Grupul Milvus, produs de EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 74;
  • Lars Svensson, Hakan Delin, 1988, Photographic guide to the birds of Britain and Europe, p. 88, Chancellor Press, London
  • Svensson (text și hărți), 2017, Ghid pentru identificarea păsărilor. Europa și zona mediteraneană, traducerea și adaptarea în limba română: Societatea Ornitologică română, Emanuel Ștefan Baltag, Sebastian Bugariu, Alida Barbu, p.58;
  • Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Mic atlas ornitologic – Păsările lumii, Editura Albatros, București, p. 119;
  • Ornitodata | Common Pheasant (
Follow Us