Ring-necked Pheasant

A male ring-necked pheasant cranes his neck and stretches his body upward
A male ring-necked pheasant cranes his neck and stretches his body upward. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 EV: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1.

Recently I had a great morning photo session with one of the resident ring-necked pheasants at Palo Alto Baylands. Usually hiding under bushes or barely visible in the tall grass, he spent a few moments out in the open, giving me some nice opportunities for some close-up portraits.

A female ring-necked pheasant grazes on short grass
A female ring-necked pheasant grazes on short grass. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 640. Evaluative metering 0 EV: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1.

After a while, his lady friend emerged from the thick scrub brush to partake in pecking at seeds. This was the first time I had seen a female in this area. I remained very still and got down low behind my lens. Soon they began to move in my direction, allowing me to get closer than ever before. The morning was quiet and either they were comfortable with my presence or they didn’t even know I was there.

A male ring-necked pheasant cranes his neck in between bits of grass
A male ring-necked pheasant cranes his neck in between bits of grass. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 640. Evaluative metering 0 EV: 1/200 sec. at f/7.1.

Introduced to North America in the mid-1800s, the ring-necked pheasant has become a popular game bird throughout the United States. The males will defend their territory against other males, though I did see four of them in one day at various points throughout this area of wetlands.

A male ring-necked pheasant fluffs out his feathers
A male ring-necked pheasant fluffs out his feathers. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 640. Evaluative metering +1/3 EV: 1/160 sec. at f/7.1.

After covering the short grasses at the edge of the bushes, they quickly disappeared into the thicket and ended our photo session. I was very happy to have gotten myself into a good position at a time when no one else was around and these two pheasants felt comfortable to be out in the open.