Toshimi Kristof took this photo in Bear Valley Springs of what appears to be a young male Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). These striking game birds are not native to the Tehachapi Mountains, of course — in fact, they are not even native to North America. Ring-necked Pheasants originally came from Asia and parts of Europe, and were introduced to the U.S. in 1773.
Since then, they have spread throughout much of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states. Ring-necked Pheasants are the state bird of South Dakota, and the opening weekend of pheasant hunting season is still a big occasion in South Dakota.
Toshimi explained how she happened to take this photo of a pheasant in the Tehachapi Mountains this autumn: "My friend Satuski Jowise, who lives in BVS texted me, 'There is a chicken like bird in my yard!!!' So I drove over and took some photos with a zoom lens. It looked like a young Ring-necked Pheasant, maybe a male. We didn't know if it was someone's pet or a survivor from the old days, released for hunting purposes. I have a friend who lives on Starland (in BVS), and they said that they have many pheasants in their yard. We later found out that this was a pet bird, and it was returned safely to its owner."
Though Ring-necked Pheasants are not native to North America, many people welcome the presence of these strikingly beautiful birds. Despite many intentional and accidental releases in the Tehachapi Mountains, however, our local habitat doesn't have enough thick perennial grasslands to support a viable, self-sustaining population of pheasants.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: email@example.com.