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Female Pheasant (Male vs Female Comparison)

Female Pheasant

Female Pheasants are less recognizable than their male counterparts being considerably different in appearance.

The Ring-necked Pheasant, also known as the Common Pheasant, is a gamebird that can be found in Europe, northern Asia, and the United States.

It is important to note, that only male pheasants can be hunted because reproduction would decrease significantly if female pheasants were to be hunted.

In this article, we’ll go over how to identify female pheasants, their call, lifecycle, and more!


How To Identify

Ring-necked Pheasant, or Common Pheasants, are large, chicken-like birds. They have striking, pointed, long tails, reasonably long legs, long necks, plump bodies, and small heads.

It’s easy to decipher if you’re looking at a male or a female because of how different they look.

Ring-necked Pheasant male and female specimen

Female pheasants are duller in color. Female on the left, male on the right.

Males are showy birds with iridescent green necks, bold white neck rings, and red faces. The male’s tails are pretty long and are coppery in color with fine black bars.

Female Common Pheasants are paler in color. They’re brown, but the color grows duller as it moves up the upper parts. They have buff underparts, black spotting on the sides, and fine black bars on their tails.



Male and female pheasants don’t sound the same. Females have a call to notify their broods of danger and another to let them know when it is safe.

Males “crow” year-round throughout the day. More so in the spring when it’s dawn or dusk. Their “crow” sounds like a shorter version of a domestic rooster crow.

Males will also make a sequence of excited and loud two-note calls when they flush. In addition, both males and females have special calls associated with alarm, flight, distress, incubation, and copulation.



Common Pheasants are polygamous birds. This means they do not mate for life, and a male will have several female patterns in their lifetime.

Male pheasants establish a breeding territory in the beginning of spring and will patrol and maintain power over their territory by calling and crowing.

If any intruders make their way into his territory, he’ll approach them with its tail and head erect. He may even tear up the grass and toss it.

Female Pheasant

Female Pheasants are not as aggressive as males, but they can still show some aggressive traits. Photograph © Alan D. Wilson

Female pheasants are not as aggressive as male pheasants are; however, they’ve still been known to pick on weaker birds.

Females assemble into groups with their focus on finding a male and moving into his territory. The male courts the female Pheasant with a wide variety of displays that involve running or strutting.

He’ll spread the wing closest to the female and his tail while raising the feather tufts behind his ears and the red skin around his eyes. He’ll also pose with his head low while calling her to a piece of food.

A female may run away at first and lead the male on a chase where he can continue his courtship displays. These birds are very tolerant of other birds like waterfowl, peafowl, pigeons, and doves.



Female pheasants choose their nesting site alone and build the nest on their own as well. The nesting site she chooses is usually less than half a mile from her wintering range.

Pheasants commonly build their nest in shallow dents in the ground, also known as ‘scrapes,’ which are often natural depressions in the ground or a hollow area that a female scoops out herself. They’re usually about a third of an inch to 3 inches deep. These ‘scrapes’ are often surrounded by tall vegetation for protection.

Male pheasants will protect the brooding pheasants and their eggs during incubation, but they do not share incubation duties.

The incubation period can last anywhere from 22 to 28 days, and male Pheasants do not bring food to the brooding female. As a result, the females have to leave their nests several times a day to find food. They’ll frequently leave the nest in the early morning and late afternoon. Eggs can be blue-gray or olive-brown in color.

The Ring-necked Pheasant’s nest is very basic. They’re usually unlined, but sometimes they do sparsely line the nest with vegetation taken from beside the ‘scrapes.’

If females do line the nest, they’ll use leaves, grasses, fine twigs, weed stalks, corn husks, or a few feathers from their breast. The average nest bowl is about 2.8 inches deep and 7 inches across.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a female pheasant called?

Just like chickens, female Pheasants are called hens.

What do female pheasants look like?

Female Pheasants do not stand out as much as males do. They’re dull buff-brown with splotches and are smaller in terms of length.

How can you tell a male from a female pheasant?

You can tell a male Pheasant from a female Pheasant by looking at their plumage. Males have iridescent green necks, red faces, and bold white rings around their necks. Females are overall brown.

Do pheasants pair for life?

No, Pheasants do not mate for life. These birds are polygamous one male pheasant will mate with several females in its life.

About the Author

Brianna Goulet

Brianna loves to get outdoors for everything creative and fun. She has a passion for birds and is a hobbyist wildlife photographer based in Central Florida. Her goal is to share everything you need to know about birds so you can get out there, explore, and identify confidently!

Let others know your thoughts or ask an expert


Monday 23rd of October 2023

Hen pheasant spotted in back garden with forest to the back in late October! Do they overwinter our just exhausted from flight? Garden has bird feeders beside fence inside the garden.

Patrick O'Donnell

Tuesday 24th of October 2023

@Carson- Nice sighting! Yes, pheasants actually do spend the winter at or near their breeding grounds. This one may be attracted to your feeders, please let us know if you keep seeing it!

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