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Day-old pheasant chicks available through 4-H

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

Introduced to the U.S. from Asia in the 1880s, pheasants quickly became one of North America’s most popular upland game birds. Citizens can help with the repopulation of this colorful bird by raising and releasing pheasant chicks available through Monroe County 4-H.

Ring-necked pheasants were established on Gardiner’s Island, near the eastern end of Long Island, in 1892. By the 1920s, they could be found across the state. More than 50,000 New York hunters pursue pheasants annually and harvest approximately 100,000 birds. 

The population of these birds has declined since the heyday of hunting them in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Contributing factors include the loss of fallow grasslands for nesting and brood-rearing, decline in grain farming, and commercial and residential development. 

The pheasant chicks are propagated at the Richard E. Reynolds Game Farm located near Ithaca. In 2010, the Department of Environmental Conservation adopted its “Management Plan for Ring-necked Pheasants in New York State.” Support and momentum for increasing the pheasant population stems from day-old pheasant chick adult pheasant release programs. 

Daily care is necessary to monitor the health of the chicks and ensure there is adequate feed and water for their rapid growth. The birds are brooded until six weeks old and are moved to an outdoor flight pen, where they continue to grow and develop their adult plumage before being released. Release needs to be before the end of the pheasant-hunting season.

Participants can integrate other wildlife management strategies, such as banding and releasing at different ages and on different site areas, to monitor mortality and survival. This varies for different regions of the state. Assistance from organizations such as Pheasants Forever is available to help improve habitat, along with cooperative ventures between local sportsman’s clubs and participants. 

Registrations for chick orders are due March 22. Call 585-753-2550, email smc226@cornell.edu or visit monroe.cce.cornell.edu for information.

Andrea Lista, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County, with the pheasant chicks.