Bird of the Week: Ring-necked Pheasant
Few birds inspire a sense of Americana the way Ring-necked pheasants do. Would it surprise you to know that these chicken-sized birds aren’t originally American at all? They instead come from Asia. The first birds came to the United State early on (George Washington is rumored to have released a flock), but their first successful introduction into the wild wasn’t until 1881 in Oregon. Since then, their meat and plumage have cemented them as a prime game bird, and thus seen as worth the effort of conservation. In fact, pheasant interest groups play no small part in efforts to restore prairie habitats, an action that supports pheasants and native species alike. The love for pheasants, however, is not universal. The fact remains that their presence is a man-made mark on the landscape and the argument can be made that they do not belong here. Mostly, however, they are considered a “naturalized species”—which means we recognize they are not native wildlife, but they don’t pose major risk to people or wildlife. To spot a pheasant in the wild at one of your Huron-Clinton Metroparks, keep your eyes set to open fields (agricultural fields are a favorite) near forested areas and listen for their raspy squawk.