Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 4,140,000-5,370,000 pairs, which equates to 8,290,000-10,700,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms <5% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 165,800,000-214,000,000 mature individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed. The global population is therefore placed in the band 160,000,000-219,999,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is widespread and very common in much of its range, however populations are declining locally owing to habitat loss and over-hunting. In Europe the population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015). Subspecies talischensis is considered very rare and may number only 200-300 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The following information refers to the species's habitat use in its European range. In its natural range, this species shows a considerable variation in its habitat. It is found chiefly in the overgrown edges of rivers, hilly areas close to cultivation and flat land which is under cultivation. In Azerbaijan, egg-laying occurs in April and May. The nest is a shallow depression in the ground, which is lined with plant material from the vicinity of the nest, or unlined. Clutches are nine to fourteen eggs. In its natural range, the species feeds on plant matter such as fruits, seeds, leaves, buds and a small amount of animal matter, for example insects. Where it is introduced it is an opportunistic omnivore, feeding on a diverse range of food, preferring large, energy rich items such as cultivated grains, mast and fruits. Mass migrations may occur in its native range but in its introduced range it is sedentary (McGowan et al. 2013).


In its introduced range in Europe it is very common and wild populations are often augmented by large numbers of captive bred birds for shooting. However in Azerbaijan race talischensis has been brought to the brink of extinction due to habitat loss and uncontrolled hunting (McGowan et al. 2013) and there is no reliable information on its current status (Braasch et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II and III. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species in Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
In Europe, research and monitoring is needed to determine the status of race talischensis and inform future conservation measures.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Phasianus colchicus. Downloaded from on 26/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/02/2024.