A spring day in the Bitterroot Valley’s Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge brings a cacophony of birdsong. The bugling of sandhill cranes, the familiar honking of Canadian geese, and the throaty rattles of red-winged blackbirds all come easily to discerning ears. But one voice seems to rise above the rest.
The raspy kaw of the male pheasant, or rooster, tends to betray the bird before its presence is obvious to the human eye. The pheasant itself is often concealed by tall grass as its raucous mating call resonates, but once spotted it is a sight to behold.
The gaudy Eurasian native is festooned in various shades of copper. Its back is uniformly patterned with white chevrons, and its improbably long tail feathers are sharply tapered at their ends. The head is an iridescent shade of green, and the neck is bordered by a stark ring of white that gives the bird its common name: the ring-necked pheasant.
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