The ring-necked pheasant

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 5:15pm

Block Island has always been a wonderful spot to go birding, not only because the island is an important stopover during migration, but due to the many species that live here.

At the Block Island School, we are following the tradition started by Elizabeth Dickens, who began the bird program at the School in the early 1900s. We are grateful to Kim Gaffett for continuing it.

Each year, Mrs. Szabo includes a bird unit in her fourth grade class, and asks her students to choose a bird they think will best make the “Block Island Bird of the Year.” Through nature walks, bird banding with Miss Gaffett, and research, each student chose a bird they believe best represents Block Island.

This is the third in a series.

You hear a screeching call and turn to see a flash of color fly from the grass into the bushes. This streak of color and call belong to the ring-necked pheasant, also known as Phasianus colchicus, one of many birds on Block Island. Being a small island off the coast of Rhode Island, the island landscape is full of rolling fields, which makes a great habitat and migration spot for many birds, including the ring-necked pheasant. The island has many beautiful sites and colors. The best bird to represent Block Island is the ring-necked pheasant because it is beautiful and resilient, just like Block Island.

One reason to choose the ring-necked pheasant as the Block Island bird is because it has rich beautiful colors, just like you see on the island. The male pheasant has a glossy green head, red face wattles, yellow eyes, brown and white body, and a long painted tail. These colors may remind you of the sunsets on Block Island. The female is smaller than the male, with sandy brown feathers marbled with darker brown, with a shorter tail. You may think brown is boring, but she has feathers that are as beautiful as our sandy beaches. The colors of both are amazing and beautiful. Some may say that other birds are a better match for Block Island, but I believe the ring-necked pheasant is the most beautiful. The pheasant’s main habitats are fields, pastures, croplands and marshes. Here on the Island we have plenty of amazing habitats for them to live in, thanks to our conserved and protected land.

Another reason the ring-necked pheasant makes a good bird to represent Block Island is that they are resilient, just like Block Islanders. The pheasant eats seeds, nuts, berries, and insects. They are omnivores. Their diet in the winter is plant matter because it is easy to find. They eat insects in the summer because the warmer temperatures bring the insects out. Even the pheasant takes advantage of new food options in the summer, just like Islanders do with restaurants open. The female pheasant stays on their roost for several days without eating, during the 25 day incubation period. She usually lays seven to 15 buff or olive brown eggs at a time. The female then stays with her young for 10 to 12 weeks. Pheasants are dedicated to hatching and raising their young. pheasants, like islanders, are active. They can fly fast for short distances, but prefer to run or walk. Sometimes you can be lucky enough to see them roaming the fields and hillsides around the island.

As you can see, the ring-necked pheasant has many characteristics that make it a wonderful bird. I think the ring-necked pheasant is the right bird for Block Island because of its beautiful colors and its way of living.