The ring necked pheasant is the state bird for South Dakota, but it isn't a native US bird. This game bird was supposedly first brought to the states by George Washington, and was introduced to South Dakota in 1898. It was adopted by South Dakota as the state bird in 1943. By that point there were around 16 million pheasants in the state, and hunting the birds had become a top tourist draw.
The ring necked pheasant originally comes from Asia. Hunters find it to be a very tasty bird. That is part of the allure of hunting the bird - the tasty meals the catches create.
Ring necked pheasants work in a harem system. In the spring, a male claims a block of territory, anywhere from one to several acres of land. He then claims up to eight females as belonging to his group. The females lay around 10 eggs into a nest and then incubate them for around 25 days. As the females don't sit on the eggs until all are laid, the eggs all incubate together and hatch at the same time.
Since most pheasants don't live past the age of 2, the large number of chicks created is necessary to keep the population stable.
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