Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)


French: Faisan de Colchide German: Jagdfasan Spanish: Faisán vulgar
Other common names: Ring-necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus


, 1758,

Africa, Asia = Rion River, Georgia


Sometimes considered conspecific with P. versicolor, which is then relegated to subspecies level; the two are not now, however, generally regarded as conspecific, because present species, when introduced to Japan, is apparently unable to survive, presumably owing to competition with P. versicolor, and failure to hybridize successfully; nevertheless, they hybridize extensively where both introduced in Hawaii. Internal taxonomy of species requires comprehensive revision. Populations of E Asia sometimes considered to constitute a separate species, P. torquatus. Races currently accepted can be split into five or six groups, which may be a better guide to geographical variation. Geographically and morphologically outlying taxa, such as tarimensis, mongolicus and formosanus, appear to be particularly distinct. One recent phylogeographical study of this species in China, however, did not support the constitution of these groups, suggesting instead that the divergence of this pheasant in the late Pleistocene may have resulted from three events (uplift of Qinghai–Tibet Plateau; existence of Qinling Mts and Liupan Mts; isolation of Sichuan Basin)#R; further research clearly required. Birds on islands in Aral Sea sometimes separated as race bergii, but considered indistinguishable from turcestanicus; latter includes also triznae and kvaskovskii. Of numerous other proposed races, lorenzi and europaeus (latter based on introduced birds) synonymized with nominate; bogdanowi and komarowii with principalis; gordius, medius and tschardjuensis with zarudnyi; michailowskii and jabae with bianchii; dorandti and oxianus with chrysomelas; tarnowskii and klossovskii with zerafschanicus; semitorquatus and brandti with mongolicus; gmelini and hemptinnii with torquatus; alpherakyi and ussuriensis with pallasi; pewzowi and schensinensis with kiangsuensis; holdereri, berezowskyi and chonensis with strauchi; and sladeni with elegans. Thirty subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. septentrionalis T. K. Lorenz, 1888 – N Caucasus from Dagestan N of the Volga Delta (Russia).
  • P. c. colchicus Linnaeus, 1758 – Black-necked Pheasant – Transcaucasia in E Georgia, NE Azerbaijan, S Armenia and NW Iran.
  • P. c. talischensis T. K. Lorenz, 1888 – SE Transcaucasia and Caspian lowlands of Iran.
  • P. c. persicus Severtsov, 1875 – SW Transcaspia in SW Turkmenistan and NE Iran.
  • P. c. turcestanicus T. K. Lorenz, 1896 – along valley of R Syr Darya, in Kazakhstan, SE to Fergana Basin, in Uzbekistan and borders of Kyrgyzstan.
  • P. c. mongolicus J. F. Brandt, 1844 – Kyrghyz Pheasant – N Tien Shan in N Kyrgyzstan N through E Kazakhstan to L Balkhash, and E to NW Xinjiang and Urumchi (W China).
  • P. c. principalis P. L. Sclater, 1885 – S Turkmenistan, extreme NE Iran and N Afghanistan.
  • P. c. chrysomelas Severtsov, 1875 – White-winged Pheasant – Amu Darya Delta, in W Uzbekistan, and adjacent N Turkmenistan.
  • P. c. zerafschanicus Tarnovski, 1893 – S Uzbekistan (Bukhara, Zerafshan Valley and Kaska Daya, near Samarkand).
  • P. c. zarudnyi Buturlin, 1904 – valleys of C Amu Darya on E Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan border.
  • P. c. bianchii Buturlin, 1904 – Upper R Amu Darya in S Uzbekistan, SW Tajikistan and extreme N Afghanistan.
  • P. c. shawii Elliot, 1870 – Tarim Basin Pheasant – W Tarim Basin (Xinjiang), in W China.
  • P. c. tarimensis Pleske, 1889 – E & S Tarim Basin, in W China.
  • P. c. hagenbecki Rothschild, 1901 – W Mongolia (Kobdo Valley).
  • P. c. edzinensis Sushkin, 1926 – lower Ruo Shui (R Ejin), in W Inner Mongolia (N China).
  • P. c. satscheuensis Pleske, 1892 – N China (extreme NW Gansu).
  • P. c. vlangalii Przevalski, 1876 – NC China (W Qaidam Basin, in N Qinghai).
  • P. c. alaschanicus Alphéraky & Bianchi, 1908 – NC China (W foothills of Helan Shan in SC Inner Mongolia and Ningxia).
  • P. c. sohokhotensis Buturlin, 1908 – NC China (Sohokhoto Oasis, in Helan Shan; possibly this race also in Qilian Shan).
  • P. c. pallasi Rothschild, 1903 – SE Siberia (Ussuriland, S Amurland), adjacent NE Korea and NE China (N & E Heilongjiang).
  • P. c. karpowi Buturlin, 1904 – NE China (S Heilongjiang and N Hebei) and C & S Korea, including Jeju I (off S Korea).
  • P. c. kiangsuensis Buturlin, 1904 – NE China (W Hebei, N Shanxi and Shaanxi to adjacent SE Inner Mongolia).
  • P. c. strauchi Przevalski, 1876 – C China (S Shaanxi and S & C Gansu).
  • P. c. suehschanensis Bianchi, 1906 – WC China (Songpan S to Kwansien, in NW Sichuan).
  • P. c. elegans Elliot, 1870 – CS China (E Tibet and adjacent W Sichuan S to NW Yunnan) and N Myanmar.
  • P. c. decollatus Swinhoe, 1870 – C China (E Sichuan E to W Hubei and S to NE Yunnan and Guizhou).
  • P. c. torquatus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 – Grey-rumped Pheasant – E China (Shandong and Henan S to China–Vietnam border).
  • P. c. rothschildi La Touche, 1922 – S China (SE Yunnan) and NW Vietnam (N Tonkin).
  • P. c. takatsukasae Delacour, 1927 – SE China (S Guangxi) and NE Vietnam (NE Tonkin).
  • P. c. formosanus Elliot, 1870 – Taiwan.
  • Various races introduced into many different countries, especially in Europe, North America, West Indies, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.

    Descriptive notes

    Male 75–89 cm (tail 32·5–59 cm), 770–1990 g; female 53–62 cm (tail 26–31 cm), 545–1453 g; wingspan 70–90 cm. Male highly... read more


    Territorial call of male comprises two harsh explosive crows, “corrr..corrr”, usually followed by... read more


    Considerable variation in habitat throughout natural range, where occurs in mountains and foothills... read more

    Food and feeding

    In natural range, diet consists primarily of plant matter, with much less animal food: fruits, seeds, leaves, buds and insects in autumn;... read more


    Season believed to be highly variable throughout both native and introduced ranges. In Jiangsu, CW China, harems of 3–5 females form... read more


    Only information from native range is of several mass migrations, mainly involving adult males... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Just three reliable density estimates from any part of native range: at Pangquangou National Nature Reserve in 1989... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).