A Bird I Did Not See in Twenty Years


OK, just call me uninformed.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I saw these birds everyday. They would take flight every time I rode my horse through a field, sometimes startling my steed. When I first moved to Niagara Falls, I would see the pheasants near the river in open fields, but no more.

Unfortunately for them, they became one of North America’s most popular game birds, but that is not why I have missed the Ring-necked Pheasant all this time. In fact, it is precisely why I did see this one, read on…




They have declined in the Northeast, mainly due to current farming practices ruining pheasant habitats. Monoculture farming has been eliminating edge habitat and draining wetlands. Spraying weeds and mowing roadsides has taken a toll on where birds forage since many birds are seen along the roadside, like the one in this post. This is things I did know.


With declining undergrowth in forests and farms eliminating hedgerows or draining wetlands, there is no surprise these birds have been getting more rare in our area.


Now What I Did Not Know

I had stopped at a country restaurant for lunch on one of my birding trips, and the friendly owner asked me why I was in the area. I was dressed a little better or more hip than these country folk, so I did stand out.

I excitedly told him I was birdwatching (no surprise to him I guess) and saw my first pheasant in twenty years. I explained how they were everywhere when I was growing up and I missed them when moving here. Kinda like the fireflies, I miss them too.

He loudly laughed and told me there are quite a few game farms in this area and what I was seeing was a bird that avoided being shot by the hunters at the game farm. He found it humorous that a birdwatcher would even care about a pheasant. I said it was my prize find of the day and I was pleased anyway.

I was wondering why the pheasant did not rapidly take to the air when I exited my Jeep. I am pretty good with birds, but not that good!


It just crossed in front of me, stopping to look at me in the middle of the road, then turned and walked casually into the brush by the stream. This made me a bit sad… the poor bird’s days are numbered being so conditioned to people.

Game farms raise the birds to be released for hunters to shoot. To me, this is a barbaric practice, killing them just for sport. Most are killed as soon as they are released from the cage too. Not much sport in that. Why not just kill them in the cage to make sure you shoot it? After all, this one got away.

The restaurant owner raised Golden Pheasants and showed me photos of these beautiful Chinese natives. They were not raised for the hunt (I asked) but the Ring-necked, also native to China, were. I just wanted to take this beautiful bird home with me. As tame as it was, I bet it would have let me. They eat slugs like chickens do, no? He could earn his keep.


Next… Our Story Looking For Eagles. Yes, we found them but not without help. It is a story about us being terrible birdwatchers.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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32 Responses to A Bird I Did Not See in Twenty Years

  1. What a gorgeous specimen! Margie

  2. I love pheasants. Except the one that flew into my windshield. He terrified me. You should come to western mn. We have eagles everywhere!

  3. Debra says:

    Can’t help but agree with everyone else: absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen one in the wild.is it possible they make good pets? i would sure welcome one in my yard. haha

  4. menomama3 says:

    Well I’ll be darned. Your explanation probably applies to where I live to. We used to see pheasants fairly frequently on country drives but no more. Interesting and sad.

  5. lulu says:

    I had a pair of pheasants as a kid that ended up at my aunts and eventually their feathers became a hat.

  6. arlene says:

    Oh, I love your shots!

  7. lelahb39 says:

    So sad! And how much more backwards could we be!!!? We completely destroy their natural habitats through agricultural practices that do not make us our our earth any healthier and then we raise them inhumanely for “sport”!? Which really isn’t much of a sport if you are taking such an unfair advantage. Gross and sad really. Wonderful photos however, and thank you for exploiting this very backwards practice so many of our species partake in.
    I have always adored the pheasant, and sadly I have eaten my share…but only when there were enough of them around for my Dad to hunt fairly and he stopped many years ago when he saw how low the population was in our area.
    great post. thank you for sharing. knowledge is power, you just informed many.

  8. Hope says:

    What a beautiful bird, Donna! This “game farm” stuff is a shame. 😦

  9. I can’t tell you how this makes my stomach hurt 😦 it is SO WRONG!
    There is another similar practice of fencing in big game (for profit) and letting the ‘hunters’ shoot the animals.
    Seriously? for “Sport”?
    How shallow and depraved humans can be. I can’t but think that karma will not be good to us.

  10. I forgot to mention how beautiful your photos are and how I wish you could’ve taken him home ;(

  11. cindy knoke says:

    Just fabulous!!! Bravo~

  12. Susan ITPH says:

    Pheasants are such exotic looking birds. Like they should be in India.

  13. Sherry says:

    We still have a few wild pheasant but not many, like every where else they are leaving or been shot,so sad. We do have eagles, at least for a while.

  14. I didn’t know that either! I always learn something in your posts.

  15. debibradford says:

    I saw my first pheasant in Iowa and I was startled by 1) its speed and 2) its beauty. At that time it was marked up as a Life Bird for me as pheasants aren’t common in my neck of the woods. Your post makes me so sad for them. Them and other species. Mankind thinks of only themselves – no empathy for other living creatures. Generalizing, of course, as you clearly do as do I, but as a rule it seems I’m always in the minority when it comes to empathy for flora and fauna. Lovely, if sad, post.

  16. ah, that bird was there as a gift to you! it surely knew that you were ‘one of the good ones,’ and it was there to smile at you!

    lovely ! z

  17. swo8 says:

    Haven’t seen a pheasant lately but we have our share of Cardinals. They have a lovely bird song.

  18. So… is this beautiful fellow traveling with you now?
    I think this was one encounter both parties enjoyed!!! πŸ™‚
    What a sad story. They do something similar with lions and wild cats. They keep them in ‘farms’ caged and when the ‘sportsmen’ arrive, they release them to be shot as a trophy. What a world…

  19. Phil Lanoue says:

    Killing animals for entertainment and amusement purposes is sick.

  20. acuriousgal says:

    I love Pheasants…..so many colors on this beautiful bird!! How exciting for you to see one again!!

  21. Pat says:

    Beautiful, crazy-quilt of colored feathers.

  22. Paul says:

    Love the pics Donna. Yes, the bird crossing the road is probably already a gone-er, which is too bad. That’s not hunting. I’m a wildlife biologist here in California, and while we have beautiful California quail, it doesnt match the pheasant!

  23. lucindalines says:

    The whole game farm is different here in the Dakotas. Our birds are released in areas, at least on our land, away from where they are raised. They are farm more wild. We have a few just outside of town, but they are smart enough to live on the edge where no hunting is allowed. We also do NOT allow big game to be fenced and hunted. Anything hunted is allowed free range of anything. Such beautiful birds, but in Taiwan they are called, chickens.

  24. My Heartsong says:

    I am so lucky that the golf course next to the park that I go to buys a few dozen every year. But other than that, I do not see them much. Am sure the coyotes get some . I always enjoy seeing them.

  25. We have pheasants around here, too, but I never get close enough to see the details in their feathers. Your photos show how beautiful they are!

  26. Lula says:

    Beautiful pheasant, and how terrible to dedicate a business to raise beautiful birds for the fun of killing them. It’s really hard to understand the human being.

  27. I used to travel in the Dakotas frequently. Pheasant hunting is popular there and the birds can often be seen by the roadside.

  28. mariekeates says:

    I see the occasional pheasant on my walks and I think some are bread for the gun here too but some are wild. When I was a child we kept a golden pheasant called Cocky. He loved to eat spiders, if we found one in the house we’d capture it and take it to him. They really do have the most amazing plumage and I enjoyed picking up his discarded feathers. Wish I’d kept some now though.

  29. bittster says:

    You had quite an accommodating subject there, and it sure did make for some beautiful pictures! I know it sounds cruel, but I can see the other side for raising and releasing. Anything that encourages people to get out there and make a connection with the land is a plus in my book. I don’t think it’s any more cruel or barbaric than stocking a trout stream or encouraging a deer population to multiply. Life’s not all buttercups and rainbows.

  30. Dalo 2013 says:

    πŸ™‚ One of my favorite birds…such a part of growing up in Eastern Oregon and of course hunting. Simply majestic shots of these pheasants. When traveling in China, walking along the Great Wall I heard the distinctive call of the Ring-necked and immediately felt at home πŸ™‚

  31. They are a rarity here but due to open fields down the road we will see them occasionally. I saw them driving to work in Rome through country roads and when i drove to work on country roads in Oswego. I do love seeing them…sad it is not often.

  32. What a gorgeous bird. I agree that breeding them just for sport is barbaric. It’s no contest.

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