Ring-Necked Pheasant Is The Official State Bird Of South Dakota. South Dakota Adopted the Chinese ring-necked pheasant as the official South Dakota State Bird in 1943. No game species introduced to this continent has been as successful as the National Bird Of South Dakota ring-necked pheasant. More than 40 species of Ring-Necked Pheasant originating in Asia and Asia Minor, these birds from the genus Phasianus are perhaps better known than any of the other 15 groups of pheasants in the world. All are related to the partridges, grouse, and guinea-fowls which make up the order Galliformes or chicken-like birds.
Archeological evidence suggests that South Dakota State Bird pheasants lived in southern France in the Miocene period, some 13 million years ago. The Greeks knew the pheasant bird in the 10th Century B.C. and we have adopted their name for the species, Phasianus ornis (physician bird), derived from the Phasis River (now Rion) near the Caucasus Mountains. The Chinese knew the pheasant some 3,000 years ago, but the Romans are considered responsible for the spread of National Bird Of South Dakota pheasants in western Europe. When Julius Caesar invaded England in the first century B.C.
It wasn’t until 1733 that the State Bird Of South Dakota pheasant appeared in North America when several pairs of the black-necked strain were introduced in New York. Judge O.N. Denny released some 100 pairs of Chinese ring-necks in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in 1881, did the pheasant really gain a foothold in the United States. Since then, South Dakota State Bird pheasants have been propagated and released by government agencies, clubs and individuals, and for all practical purposes are established everywhere on the continent that suitable habitat exists.
- Length: 27 inches
- Chunky, long-tailed, round-winged, ground-dwelling bird
- Small head and thin neck
- Immatures similar to adult female
- Some subspecies have a green body or white wings but are very locally introduced
- Pale bill
- The unfeathered red facial skin around the eye
- The white ring around the neck
- Golden plumage with bluish and greenish iridescence and black spots scattered throughout
- Long, pointed, golden tail feathers with black barring
- Spurred legs
- Buffy brown head and underparts
- Dark brown back with paler edgings and centers
- Black spots and bars scattered about head, neck, and flanks
- The long, buff-brown, pointed tail
- Lacks spurs