I confess I took this picture of these beautiful Chinese pheasants from a larger picture that is on my wall. There used to be quite a lot of these ring-necked birds here in the Wallowa Valley. We even had an organization called “Pheasants Forever” which I belonged to. Today it is rare to get to see one of these roosters. What happened? I’m not sure what ODFW has for an answer, but from my observation, I think I know what happened to them. When I first moved here in 1969 there were quite a lot of these “Chiney” pheasants and there weren’t any red foxes. Then we began to see more and more foxes and less and less pheasants.
These pheasants roosted on the ground and they made their nests on the ground. Therefore, they were very vulnerable to the keen sense of smell of foxes. I noticed in my hayfields little piles of feathers that showed where a pheasant had been killed and eaten. There are far too many foxes here today and they inhabit the same areas around farmland where the pheasants used to be. There are too few trappers today that trap these predators as it’s hard to catch them in people’s back yards without catching farm cats and dogs. Sometimes these foxes have their litters in plain view of a house and people think they are cute. They are cute, but so are baby pheasant chicks that we rarely get to see anymore. So that’s my diagnosis of why we have so few Chinese pheasants today.