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Pheasants in the UK (1 Viewer)

Earnest lad

Well-known member
Dear colleagues
Please can anyone advise if ALL the pheasants seen in the UK are captive bred, or whether in fact some are genuine wild birds breeding in the wild?
I read that some 35 millon a year are bred in captivity and released into the wild for sport shooting.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
There are a few 'genuine' feral birds, raised in natural conditions, but not many - maybe 0.1% or something like that. The further you are away from a shooting estate, the higher the chances of them being wild-bred.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
My wife and I were tooling round Scotland the other week and had to stop the car while a female Pheasant ushered her brood across the road right in front of us. QED.....

John
 

King Edward

Well-known member
Certainly Pheasants frequently breed in the wild - I have seen hens with chicks several times. Hard to say though how many of the females that breed were themselves hatched in the wild, rather than being released birds. Presumably it's quite a low %, given the enormous numbers released and high egg/chick mortality.
 

Paul1963

Well-known member
Originally all pheasants were imported birds from the far east and raised for shooting. There is now a healthy feral population, but one should be mindful that most have been reared and released for the gun
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
Thank you everyone for your kind insights.
From the comments here, I guess nowhere in the UK is there what one might call a "self sustaining" wild population and that even where on odd occasions as mentioned some birds do raise young in the wild, such parent birds themselves are highly likely to be captive bred themselves.
It is only my decision but I decided not to include this species as a "tick" on my list of wild birds.
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
Same goes for partridges (especially RL).

As it is almost impossible to know the origins of most game birds I think most people just tick them and carry on
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
My wife and I were tooling round Scotland the other week and had to stop the car while a female Pheasant ushered her brood across the road right in front of us. QED.....

John

I'm afraid to ask John.......:eek!:

When I was a young 'nester' I'd regularly find nests with a dozen or so eggs, can't have changed so much can it?



A
 

nicklittlewood

Well-known member
I'd not exactly suggest a twitch for them, but...

They have been self-supporting with no new introductions (and presumably next to no immigration) for several decades on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. From memory, maybe a dozen or so territorial males in late 1990s. Quick check of Skomer Bird Report suggests still similar numbers (14 territories in 2016). No ground-based predators, there, of course.
 

mudman

Well-known member
Pheasant and Redlegs were both breeding wild and had historically strong self sustaining populations. Both were found in good numbers across Eastern England, the fens were famous for wild pheasants for example. But like many other farm land birds the numbers of wild breeding birds have declined quite alot, although some do occur and as mentioned above no doubt cross breed with the survivors of those released for shooting. Artificially reared pheasants are quite successful at breeding given the right circumstances, released redlegs probably less so.
 

jape

Well-known member
just wondering, is there a rule of x number of generations before considered local not feral or are they forever damned to be unticked except by me and schoolboys?
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
just wondering, is there a rule of x number of generations before considered local not feral or are they forever damned to be unticked except by me and schoolboys?
Well, there are list categories. A self-sustaining population older than a number of generations will eventually be considered "tickable" by the powers that be. IIRC that's Category C, though maybe that's from a German system. I have several neozoa in my life list listed as such, e.g. American Mink, Egyptian Goose, Canada Goose, although I confess I'd be far more excited to see them in their natural range. Was lucky enough to see a Common Pheasant in China once, although my field notes are rather insufficient due to myself being young and foolish at the time.
 

Britseye

Well-known member
just wondering, is there a rule of x number of generations before considered local not feral or are they forever damned to be unticked except by me and schoolboys?

10 years, I believe is the threshold. Budgies on Tresco were heading that way till they died out in their 9th year!
 

jape

Well-known member
10 years, I believe is the threshold. Budgies on Tresco were heading that way till they died out in their 9th year!

thanks sangahyando and britseye
i shall have to go back and check my teenage haunts. plenty of pheasants were breeding in Woburn area, if it isn't all concrete now. i think they built a little town called milton keynes there after i left! and if the Bedfords didnt shoot them all. they did breed and release but we found many around the estates that were free breeders.
 

coaltit

Well-known member
United Kingdom
To Think the romans brought the pheasant here originally so not always a native bird, like the french red legs from the seventeenth century, supposedly most game birds were Introduced here not sure about black grouse thou.
 

jape

Well-known member
To Think the romans brought the pheasant here originally so not always a native bird, like the french red legs from the seventeenth century, supposedly most game birds were Introduced here not sure about black grouse thou.

yup, most of us are imports from that perspective. :t:
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
To Think the romans brought the pheasant here originally so not always a native bird, like the french red legs from the seventeenth century, supposedly most game birds were Introduced here not sure about black grouse thou.
I haven't researched this in depth, but I think that most gamebirds that are native to the adjacent areas on the continent are also originally native to Britain (i.e. grouse, Grey Partridge, Quail). However, Capercaillie have been reintroduced from Norway IIRC, after having gone nearly or completely extinct in Britain. And of course, there's the possibility of additional releases of all species by shooting estates etc. to boost their numbers.

There's also the question whether some species might've been native to Europe before the last ice age.
 

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