Can it be counted?

Saturday morning I saw and then heard one other Ring-necked Pheasant at Atterbury FWA. That didn’t really surprise me because the habitat there is pretty good for it. But is it countable for birding lists?

A cold Ring-necked Pheasant in North-Central Illinois.  Not all that unusual there. 01/22/10
A cold Ring-necked Pheasant in North-Central Illinois. Not all that unusual there. 01/22/10

The short answer about listing the bird is yes. It is my list so I can count what I want. But if I had to submit the list for some kind of record to a rules committee, would it be countable? The answer is probably no.

The Ring-necked Pheasant was introduced from Asia as a game bird in the U.S. The American Birding Association rules state:

  1. an introduced species may be counted only where and when it meets the ABA Checklist’s definition for being an established population. An introduced species observed well away from the accepted geographic area is not counted if it is more likely to be a local escape or release rather than an individual straying from the distant population;


As seen on the below distribution map the Ring-necked Pheasantfalls in the geographic area of Central Illinois and Indiana.

Ring-necked pheasant

The wild population I used to see around Matthiessen State Park in Illinois were probably countable because, I think, at one-time the state released Ring-necked Pheasants for hunting and they became established in the area. So how do you know if the birds have lived there for years or are ones that were recently released in the area for hunting?

Reading the DNR website Ring-necked Pheasant are released at Atterbury every February for hunting. But how do I know for sure if the ones I saw were released this past February or ones that were released 14 months ago or 26 months ago and are now established? I really don’t.

But if I had to guess they were probably released this past February but I really don’t spend a lot of time in that particular area of Atterbury, especially in the early morning when they are calling. Maybe they have always been there and I have just missed them.

So unless you are submitting your list for a national or state record, I say count the birds and move on.


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