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Pleasant pheasants: Why P.E.I. watershed groups want more of the colourful birds

A couple of watershed groups on P.E.I. are trying to build the Island’s pheasant population as a way of raising awareness around nature and adding some colour to Island winters.

“It’s such a beautiful, colourful bird that just adds to the beauty of nature in general,” said Barry Murray, of the Kensington North Watersheds Association.

“It’s great to see a colourful male pheasant on a drab winter day so it raises everybody’s appreciation and awareness of watershed issues.”

Murray travelled to the Annapolis Valley this week to pick up four ring-necked pheasants that were released in Margate, P.E.I., bringing the number of pheasants released by the watershed group to 28 in 2019.

“The males are very, very colourful, they’re easy to spot, the females as well, because they have a very long tail,” Murray said.

“It adds for biodiversity. It’s another species. It’s not interfering with ruffed grouse which is a local species.”

Fans of pheasants have been adding the birds in the Kensington area since 2010, with the support of the P.E.I. chapter of Pheasants Forever.

“The main reason is to try to fill a niche that has been created by the clear cutting of forests in this area,” said David Cody, of the Kensington watershed group.

“The ruffed grouse that traditionally lives in the forest here is suffering a little bit so pheasants which live in more of a scrub land area are filling that niche that has been created by humans.”

Cody said pheasants were first introduced on P.E.I. more than 100 years ago.

Their population has gone up and down since then, mainly due to challenges from the weather.