Ring-necked Pheasant — Gorgeous but Gaudy

May 28, 2014

After I finished shooting bobolinks at B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area a few weeks ago, I spotted a red blotch in the prairie that gave me pause. I pulled my 4Runner over and took a look with my binoculars and was pleasantly surprised to find a ring-necked pheasant looking back at me. I figured it would be a waste of time to try to get out of the vehicle, go around to the back, lift the tailgate, and assemble my gear, but I decided, “What the heck, you only live once!” By the time I had my lens and camera back on the tripod, I was shocked to see that the pheasant was intently watching me but had not put any distance between us.

I approached the game bird with my usual system. I waited until it dropped its head in the tall grass and then closed the distance between us a little at a time. The entire field was under a sheet of water so it was difficult to approach the bird with stealth as I slogged through the muck in my waders. After several approaches, I was well within range for a shot with my 500mm lens and 1.4x extender.

The first few images featured the pheasant looking toward me with its crimson jowls flapping in the wind. It was getting late in the morning, so the sun was no help as I tried to correctly expose the beautiful color of the bird without blowing out the piercing white ring around its neck. After some trial and error, thanks to this agreeable bird, I finally settled on a working exposure and made my best images. The featured image (700 mm; 1/1000; f/5.6; ISO 200), was actually the last of the series but it seemed most fitting for this week’s post as it shows the entire body, sharp tail and all.

Image #2 was my favorite of the encounter, especially because you can see the pheasant’s large eye so well and the overall composition just has a nice feel. Well, it makes me feel good anyway.

DJB_BKL_2014_0806700 mm; 1/1000; f/5.6; ISO 200

The final image was one of the first frames I made as the pheasant was still scoping me out. This image really shows how goofy this species looks with its garish plumage. Goofy was fine with me, because all I usually see is their rear end as they are running away from me!

DJB_BKL_2014_0804700 mm; 1/1000; f/5.6; ISO 200

While I was photographing the pheasant, my first in Missouri, another was calling from across the road behind me. I think the calling helped to keep my subject in the area. I also gave a quail whistle now and then when I wanted the bird to poke its head up and for some reason that seemed to work, as well.

Who knows where this pheasant, his buddy and probably a few others came from. I assume they were escapees from a local hunting ranch. I was just happy to run across this gorgeous but gaudy customer. He made a great day of photographing bobolinks even better!

Thanks for looking,


Publication:  You can read my latest story in the June edition of “Missouri Conservationist” here about the Common Yellowthroats of Shaw Nature Reserve.

Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

8 comments on “Ring-necked Pheasant — Gorgeous but Gaudy”

  1. what a beautiful shot of a beautiful bird! I don’t really want to know where it is from, where it’s going….it’s a flash of gold, an evanescent beauty, that you’ve captured for us.

  2. It’s so nice to get co-operative subject like that. It gives a lot of encouragement to stopping the next time.

  3. Perfect Framing on #1. Quite an interesting animal. I see a drooping heart in the red…..and quite a capture!

    • Thanks Gordo. I never notice the more artistic things like that so thanks for finding it for me.

  4. What a awesome shoot, of that glorious Ringed-necked Pheasant. What timing you have, to be able to capture it in the wild. Thumbs up, for a great job well done. Thanks for sharing.


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