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The state bird of South Dakota is the ring-necked pheasant or Phasianus colchicus. Originally brought in from Asia as a game bird in the early 1900s, it was officially declared the state bird of South Dakota in 1943. It has distinctive coloring, with a white ring around the male bird's neck, giving it its name.
The ring-necked pheasant male is an extremely pretty bird, with a greenish sheen to their head feathers, bright red markings around their eyes, black, red and gold feathers on the body and a long tail. The female birds are plainer, with speckled brown feathers and a shorter tail, camouflaging them well. They are about the size of a chicken, with a similarly small head and elongated neck. The adult male pheasant has spurs on his legs which are used for fighting other males, mainly during breeding season.
Due to its delicious meat and its habitat being very much limited to the Midwest, the ring-necked pheasant is considered a delicacy both in South Dakota, and especially elsewhere, where it is more difficult to obtain. With its status of state bird of South Dakota, the ring-necked pheasant is featured flying above Mount Rushmore on the South Dakota state quarter issued in 2006.
The ring-necked pheasant’s habitat is mainly farmland and they feed on grasses, seeds and sometimes insects. During breeding season, one male often protects a number of female birds from any other male intrusion. They make their nests on the ground and lay between six and twelve uniformly brown- or olive-colored eggs. Normally only half of the babies survive, depending on weather conditions, the presence of predators such as foxes and hawks, and the availability of food.
Each US state has a number of state symbols, from state animals to birds, trees to flags, each one chosen carefully by the specific state. The state bird of South Dakota is joined by the state animal, the coyote, the state flower, the pasque and the state tree, the Black Hills Spruce. All of these symbols inspire state patriotism.
The numbers of the state bird of South Dakota are still high, though it seems that they may be declining, most probably due to the change in farming practices throughout the state. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has a plan in place to conserve and protect the habitat of the ring-necked pheasant, ensuring that the population of birds does not dwindle. They work hand-in-hand with the public and commercial hunting farms that are spread throughout South Dakota.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the state bird of South Dakota?
The state bird of South Dakota is the Ring-necked Pheasant. It was designated as the official state bird in 1943, reflecting the bird's popularity among hunters and its abundance in the state's fields and grasslands. The Ring-necked Pheasant is known for its striking appearance, with males displaying a mix of bright colors and the distinctive white ring around their neck.
When was the Ring-necked Pheasant designated as South Dakota's state bird?
The Ring-necked Pheasant was officially designated as the state bird of South Dakota in 1943. This decision was influenced by the bird's significant role in South Dakota's wildlife and its contribution to the state's hunting heritage. The pheasant's presence in South Dakota is so iconic that the state is known as the "Pheasant Capital of the World."
Why was the Ring-necked Pheasant chosen as the state bird of South Dakota?
The Ring-necked Pheasant was chosen as South Dakota's state bird due to its popularity among hunters and its successful adaptation to the state's prairie habitat. Introduced to South Dakota in the early 1900s, the pheasant quickly became a symbol of the state's outdoor sporting culture. Its selection as the state bird highlights the importance of wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation to South Dakota's identity.
Where can you typically find the Ring-necked Pheasant in South Dakota?
The Ring-necked Pheasant thrives in South Dakota's diverse habitats, including agricultural fields, grasslands, and wetlands. They are particularly abundant in the eastern part of the state, where the mixture of cropland and grassy cover provides ideal conditions for foraging and nesting. The best times to observe these birds are during the early morning or late afternoon when they are most active.
What are some interesting facts about the Ring-necked Pheasant?
The Ring-necked Pheasant is not native to North America; it originates from Asia and was introduced to the United States in the 1880s. Males are known for their colorful plumage and distinctive crowing call, while females have a more camouflaged, brown appearance for better nesting protection. During the fall, South Dakota becomes a hotspot for pheasant hunters, with the bird's population bolstering the state's economy through hunting-related tourism.