Pheasant (Common Pheasant)
Distribution Britain 2,269 (+0.9%) Ireland 844 (-0.7%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 1,550,000 + Ireland 570,000 females
This common introduced gamebird has shaped the management of many areas within the British countryside. It has become widespread and numerous over most of Britain and Ireland save Shetland and much of the Hebrides and is extensively reared. About 200,000 are shot annually in Ireland and more than 20,000,000 in Britain! Many are released birds, no more a part of the natural avifauna than battery chickens. On some estates over 90,000 birds are released onto ordinary farmland at rates approaching 25 per hectare, with terrible problems of disease and predation. However often the habitat is managed for the Pheasants, with great benefits for other species, and high populations of 'wild' birds are bred and topped up with releases of just one bird per hectare. The 'Ring-necked' birds and other varieties, like 'Blue-backs', are all the same species. An important rural industry.
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead