Habitat selection and the relative distributions of wild and released pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) as determined by winter trapping.

Author Robertson, P.A.
Citation Robertson, P.A. (1985). Habitat selection and the relative distributions of wild and released pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) as determined by winter trapping. Journal of the World Pheasant Association, 10: 87-99.

Abstract

During the winter, pheasants are characteristically found near the edges of permanent cover including both woodland and scrub (Collias and Taber 1951, Göransson 1980 and Ridley 1983). Grassland and crops are used more during the breeding season (Lachlan and Bray 1976) and less during the winter, probably because of the scarcity of food and poorer cover afforded by such areas during that season.

The pheasant is a game bird of economic importance over much of Europe and North America and it has been claimed in Britain that pheasant shooting is an important factor in the planting and retention of woodland (Shoard 1980). As such, an understanding of the habitat selection during the winter will be of benefit to pheasant management, estimating the game potential of an area, predicting the effects of changes in land management, and providing a basis for habitat improvement. The habitat selection of breeding cock pheasants has been examined by Lachlan and Bray (1976) who stressed the structural character of the vegetation as being of greater importance than the species composition. This study examines the habitat  preferences of pheasants during the winter in terms of vegetative structure.

Sexual differences in habitat selection have been reported from China (Cheng 1964) and although Ridley (1983) suspected a similar effect in Oxfordshire there currently appears to be no information regarding this aspect of pheasant behaviour from the managed populations of Europe.

The release of hand reared pheasant poults is a common management procedure intended to increase the number of birds available during the shooting season; this study also examines the dispersal of released pheasants when placed into an area containing a resident population and the reaction of the latter to the introduction as gauged by winter trapping.

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