Biologists often manage grassland habitat for ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) through provision of the grasses and forbs that support the invertebrates on which they forage. However, specific information pertaining to invertebrate prey selection by ring-necked pheasant broods is lacking. To address this, we used radio-telemetry to locate pheasant roost sites where we collected pheasant chick droppings. We then identified characteristic fragments of invertebrates in each dropping sample to family and order to calculate percent composition of each. Next, we sampled invertebrate abundance near to sites where droppings had been collected using a standard sweep netting protocol. Invertebrates found in chick droppings were compared with the diversity of invertebrates available on the landscape. Curculionidae [weevils (Order Coleoptera)] were present in all droppings sampled, and they were the most frequently consumed invertebrate taxa by seven of the nine broods sampled. The remaining two broods consumed Formicidae [ants (Order Hymenoptera)] most frequently. All broods significantly selected Coleoptera more than expected by their availability, and two broods significantly selected Hymenoptera more than expected by their availability. Habitat management practices that result in greater abundance of these species on the landscape should be beneficial to pheasants.
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Vol. 173 • No. 2