Country corner

Pheasant

Pheasant

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I have recieved another picture from Callum Herd, who sent in the woodpecker picture featured recently.

Callum says: “Further to my recent photos that I sent you of the woodpeckers at the feeders in my garden – this week I got some different ones.

“We regularly get a hen pheasant that comes to the garden and generally picks around but she always gets seeds and bits of peanuts under the feeders that the birds drop from above when feeding.

“We also occasionally get a visit from the cock – but this week we got a visit under the feeders from four of them which I’m assuming is the cock, hen and two large youngsters (the light coloured ones) – or do cock pheasants have harems?” What Callum’s photo actually shows is a cock and a harem of adult hen pheasants.

The fact the hens are different shades is purely due to long years of semi domestication as the birds are bred in game farms for supply to shooting estates.

This has led to the development of various strains of pheasant – dark ones, pale ones, large, small, ring necked, plain necked, green backed, blue backed, and many other styles.

Gamekeepers and estates all have their favourite strains which they think suits their habitat.

For instance, in hilly ground a small fast strain of pheasant, deemed to be good flyers might be preferred .

Of course most pheasants evade shooting areas so end up living wild, often breeding successfully, despite being born in captivity themselves.

Pheasants have been part of the countryside so long we are guilty of taking the sight of them for granted as they forage in fields and by roadsides.

Take another look next time and wonder at the beauty of the colours of the males and intricate patterns of the females.

The humble pheasant is a truly stunning addition to our landscape and even more so close up in the gardens of those lucky people like Callum!

As Callum knows, I am always interested in readers’ wildlife pictures.

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