Habitat selection by cock pheasants in spring.
In spring, after spending the winter months in loose flocks of both sexes, cock pheasants (Phasianus colchicus L.) take up definable territories which are defended against other males. This paper describes the dispersion and composition of the territories on a study area in southern England where pheasants were preserved for shooting.
The data were collected on the dynamics of this managed population and especially on the fate of artificially reared pheasants (Bray 1970). Counts were made each spring of the numbers surviving to breed and of the numbers and dispersion of territorial cock pheasants, many of which were individually marked.
The territories were studied in relation to the habitat to define those features which enabled parts of the study area to support cock pheasants in spring, and conversely to explain why about one-quarter of the area had few territories.
From an understanding of the habitat requirements of pheasants in spring a variety of game management needs can be met - for example, in estimating the game potential of farmland and forests, in predicting the effects of changes in land management and in providing a quantitative basis when planning habitat improvements for wild pheasants.