Can Pheasants Fly?


As many of you may already know, pheasants are ground-dwelling birds from the family Phasianidae, along with the peacock, turkey, and quail. Can pheasants fly? That is one of the questions we will be looking at in this article, along with some other basic information about pheasants. Enjoy!

Can pheasants fly? Yes, pheasants are capable of flying short distances but won’t fly unless they feel threatened or want to roost on trees at night. They usually, resort to walking or running. Pheasants are often characterized as ground-dwelling birds because they are rarely observed flying. Flying takes up a lot of their time and energy, which is why it’s not the preferred method of transportation for them.

Are you an amateur birder who has just spotted a pheasant running on the ground? Or are you an expert birdwatcher who is looking to prove some friends wrong? Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

Stay with us till the end of this article, and we’ll tell you everything there is to know about the flight behavior in pheasants.

How fast can pheasants fly?

As you already know by now, pheasants are very reluctant fliers that will resort to flying only in a dire, life-threatening situation. However, what might come as a surprise to you is the speed at which they fly when they are being chased.

The average speed for pheasants when they are cruising varies between 38 to 48 miles per hour. When they are being chased or threatened, they can fly up to an impressive 60 miles per hour, surpassing even the swallows. This is saying something considering swallows, unlike pheasants, are much smaller in size and are highly adapted to staying airborne.

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With that being said, the pheasants do not fly for a long period of time. In fact, on average, most of these birds can hardly fly more than 2 kilometers in one go. Are you wondering why? Let me tell you.

Because pheasants are not used to flying, they can’t perform a smooth take-off like other birds. When these birds launch themselves for flight, they run abruptly and noisily, taking a sudden, explosive take-off.

And since their explosive take-off takes a lot of energy, it leaves behind little energy to allow them to fly for a longer period.

At what age do pheasants start flying?

An important thing to know about pheasants is that their eggs and newly-born hatchlings have a high mortality rate. Most of the time, they are destroyed by predators like foxes, badgers, corvids, and sometimes, humans, too.

Now, getting back to the point, the female pheasants lay around a dozen, dark-brown eggs. Interestingly enough, the mother pheasant incubates her eggs all on her own, without any help from the male pheasant.

After the incubation period of about 25 days, their young ones hatch out of these eggs and grow up pretty quickly. While they stay with their parents for about nine weeks, they learn to fly by the second week itself.

Despite the fact that they will fly very little throughout their lives, their parents deem it essential to equip them with this skill as early as any other bird.

Why do pheasants have trouble flying?

As we have already mentioned, although pheasants are capable of flight, they prefer walking to flying. While that might strike as odd to many people, there is a reasonable explanation behind their unusual behavior, which is what we will be discussing in this section.

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First off, flying is a high time-consuming affair for the pheasants. This is because these birds have very strong flight muscles, which results in powerful, haphazard, and noisy lift-offs. So, if they’re in a threatening situation, they are more like to outrun it rather than fly away from it. Additionally, as discussed before, flying also takes up a lot of their energy, leaving them exhausted by the end.

Secondly, pheasants are ground-living birds, which means that their diet mostly consists of seeds, insects, and grains, all of which are easily found on the ground. The absence of a nutrition-driven incentive is another reason why these birds are such infrequent fliers.

Are pheasants good runners?

As we have already talked about in this article, pheasants tend to run from most minor threats rather than fly. So, this must mean that they are really fast runners; how else would they escape their predators?

Well, these birds are truly blessed in the speed department (seeing their size and weight), and they do not disappoint! Pheasants can run up to 10 miles an hour when chased. Can you believe that?


As we come to the end of this article, let us recap all that we have discussed so far about pheasants. We learned that although these birds are reluctant flyers, and would rather run when faced with danger, they can fly too; and with an impressive speed! They start flying as early as two weeks old but don’t fly away from their parents till they are nine weeks old.

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And lastly, while they don’t fly all that much, they can run really fast, which is how they escape their predators.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>