U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

February 2000


Published in Am. Midl. Nat. 143:463–480.


From 1992 to 1995 we used radiotelemetry to monitor winter habitat selection and survival of female ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in southeastern North Dakota. We captured 100 birds at nine sites in six study blocks centered on cattail-dominated (Typha spp.) semi-permanent wetlands. Pheasants showed nonrandom habitat use at two hierarchical scales. At the second-order scale (23-km2 blocks) semi-permanent wetlands were preferred during two winters in which habitat selection could be assessed (1992–1993 and 1994–1995). An additional second-order preference for grass-covered uplands was shown during the mild 1994–1995 winter. At the third-order scale (home-range) pheasants preferred the edges of wetlands in 1992–1993 and 1994–1995. The central portions of wetlands were preferred in 1992–1993 and used proportionately in 1994–1995. Seasonal wetlands were avoided at the third order scale during 1992–1993 and 1994–1995. The average winter survival rate was 0.41, with rates ranging from 0.04–0.86 and differing significantly among winters. Survival was lower during early winter and midwinter periods for birds weighing less than 1090 g and for birds captured in semi-permanent wetlands under private ownership. A 1 C increase in the mean weekly maximum temperature decreased the probability of death by 0.06 and a 2.5 cm increase in new snow raised the probability of death by 0.08.