These introduced birds have large areas of the countryside in Europe and North America run for their benefit and live a very cosseted life - until they get shot. The crop just from the British countryside may reach 10,000 tons a year!
Various different colours of male are bred and released but they are (males) a striking bird with metallic blooms to the plumage. This is basically a mixture of chestnut, with black crescents, and grey with dark green head and red skin round the eye. Most have a white neck ring. Females are a soft brown speckled with black.
Males have harems of several females and a wing whirring crowing display. They are sedentary and originate from wild stocks in Asia. The attraction is that they rocket away when disturbed giving the ideal game shot. The British population is estimated at over 3,000,000 breeding individuals and there are a further 1,000,000 or more in Ireland.
The game bird.
Male Female Length 850 mm 550 mm Closed wing 260 mm 215 mm Weight 1150 gms 850 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead