How Old Are Those Pheasant Chicks?

  • 08/19/2013
With red beginning to show on their breasts and wattles, these young roosters are about 8-weeks-old. Photo by Craig Armstrong

August is a great time of year to see pheasants, the dewy mornings conducive to seeing wildlife. So it’s the month when the majority of states conduct their annual brood surveys, the results of which end up giving the pheasant hunter the most educated guess on what type of bird numbers he or she will find once the season is underway.
The age of the chicks lets you know if they were from an early or late hatch. It’s always nice to see early hatches in August, as they’re larger in both group and individual size and have therefore have a better chance of reaching maturity, but it’s better to see late broods than no broods at all. As you make your own travels across pheasant country, here’s a quick age reference guide:
0 weeks - No feathers showing; 3 dark stripes on back; “ball of fluff.”
2 weeks - Back and wings mostly feathered; down predominates on breast and head; tail ¾”; short hop-type flights.
4 weeks - Uniformly feathered except for fuzzy down on head; tail 2 ¼”; good flyers.
6 weeks - Uniformly feathered throughout; no red breast color yet on cocks; tail 3 ½”.
8 weeks – Dark red begins to show on sides of breast of cocks; red wattle edges beginning; on-half size of adult hen; males slightly larger than females; appear “gawky”; tail 4”.
10 weeks - Cocks only: Dark red prominent on sides of breast; red wattles obvious; slight blue on wing coverts; new central tail feathers protruding but not barred.
12 weeks - Cocks only: Red wattles prominent; blue wing coverts prominent; greenish black mottled on head; size of adult hen; tail 6 ½” and black barred.
14 weeks - Cocks only: white neck ring begins to show; breast almost completely reddish; greenish black on head solid; tail 9-10”. Size and appearance of juvenile female same as adult female.
16 weeks - Both sexes appear as adults.
Pheasant Dewy Decimal System
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.organd follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.