Why Do Pheasants Dig Holes? (Explained)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Digging holes is quite common amongst birds. Most birds go so far as to bore holes in trees.

However, this is mostly to provide shelter for themselves. Most flying birds are likely to engage in this behavior.

Pheasants, however, are ground birds. As a result, you will most likely notice them digging holes in the ground most of the time. 

But why do pheasants dig holes? Have you ever thought about it? Well, let’s find out.

Why Do Pheasants Dig Holes?

Why Do Pheasants Dig Holes

Pheasants dig holes for a variety of reasons. Some examples are as follows:

1. To scout for food:

The majority of their food sources like seeds, insects, worms, and berries, are located in the ground. 

This is a habit observed in wild birds. There’s a reason for this though. Before they became domesticated, birds had to fend for themselves.

And they would usually venture out into the woods to gather their food. 

However, scouting for food is a natural behavior for birds. As a result, you may have seen Pheasants in captivity do the same thing. They do this by scratching and picking the soil with their feet and mouth. 

2. To lay their eggs:

Another reason you could notice pheasants digging up the earth is to lay their eggs. Typically, they would create a safe and secure environment in which to deposit their eggs. 

Females are the only ones who dig for this reason. Males are typically uninterested in the incubation stage.

It is quite beneficial to offer Pheasants proper and clean ground for egg-laying.

Alternatively, if you’re rearing pheasants in a cage with no access to dirt, give them nesting materials.

Birds can create their nests. Nonetheless, these birds should be provided with ground cages preferably. This provides them with natural habitat.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on why pheasants attack humans

3. Dust baths: 

This is a common practice amongst most birds. Dust bathing may appear to be a dirty habit, yet it is extremely beneficial to pheasants and other birds who engage in this practice.

Dust bathing helps them keep their feathers in good condition. It keeps their feathers in tip-top shape.

Excess oil is usually absorbed by the dust that is worked into the bird’s feathers. This helps to protect their feathers from becoming oily or matted.

This article covers a lot about pheasants and why they dig holes as well as other information that may interest you. So, keep reading. 

Are Pheasants Ground Nesting Birds?

Pheasants do, in fact, nest on the ground. The female constructs her nest in a tiny dip in the ground.

Their nests are commonly found under a hedge or among tall grasses. 

Most times, they would nest in an old nest left by other birds. They will also roost in sheltered trees at night.

The female pheasant will line its nest with plants from the depression. She’ll collect leaves, fine twigs, corn husks, and weed stalks to make the perfect nest lining. She’ll frequently take a few feathers from her breast to line the nest.

A pheasant nest bowl should be around 7 inches square and 2.8 inches deep on average.

However, when vegetations are yet to grow, they take advantage of other areas to nest.

At this time, you’d see them build their nest near grassy roadside, ditches, marshes, and fence lines. 

Is It Normal For Pheasants To Dig Holes

It is normal for pheasants to dig holes. Pheasants are ground birds and they are usually found on the ground.

This is why they are diggers. This is a common behavior amongst most birds. 

Digging holes is a common instinct of birds. However, birds dig holes for certain reasons which are,

  • They dig holes in the search of food. This is one of the commonest reasons why birds dig holes. Unless a pheasant is domesticated, it is solely its responsibility to search for food by itself. 
  • Pheasants also dig holes for laying their eggs 
  • Pheasants also dig holes to take dust baths 

Also check out this article on why pheasants make noise

Do Pheasants Take Dust Bath

Just like most birds, pheasants also take dust baths. The act of rolling or moving around in the dust, dry dirt, or sand is known as dust bathing also known as sand bathing. This is one of the reasons why birds generally dig holes. 

Just as discussed earlier, dust baths are healthy for birds. If you’re raising these birds, it is recommended that you provide them with good soil to have a good dust bath.  

Wondering why dust baths are necessary, here’s why;

  • Dust baths are necessary to keep pheasants feathers healthy, clean, and flexible for flying.
  • Dust baths are also used by pheasants to get rid of excess oil from their body. 
  • In the process of dust, bathing birds get rid of debris as well.
  • Dust baths also help them minimize parasites such as lice.

Interestingly dust baths are also practiced by other animals such as squirrels, elephants, gerbils, and chinchillas. And it is also healthy for them. 

Dust bathing is thought to be a technique for some other animals to send chemical messages to the ground that identify their area.

Where Do Pheasants Sleep At Night?

Pheasants will usually roost on a perch at night. However female pheasants are usually on the ground at night when they are incubating their later eggs. 

Other than that they will roost on high objects such as trees. They usually roost on a perch at night to avoid attacks from predators.

This is however where you’d most likely see pheasants that live in the wild.

However, if the pheasant is domesticated, a coop can be made for it. This is an even better way to avoid attacks from predators.

It will also keep them away from harsh weather conditions. 

However, if they are placed in a coop, overcrowding should be avoided. This will make the pheasants attack each other. 

Do Pheasant Ruin Your Garden? 

Birds are generally known to eat seeds and grains, pheasants as well. However, pheasants do not just feed on seeds and grains.

They are also known to eat buds, berries, and acorns. So if a pheasant finds these foods in your garden they will feed on them. 

Pheasants naturally eat food from the ground. This is one of the reasons why they dig holes on the ground, in search of food.

They can retrieve seeds from the ground in the process of digging holes in search of food or digging holes for their dust baths. 

However certain steps can be taken to ensure that pheasants don’t ruin your garden or even come into it in the first place. 

Net your plants: To prevent birds from causing damage to the plants, a bird net can be used around your plants. A bird net is a plastic or fiber mesh used to keep birds from pecking plants. 

Do not, however, simply drape the net over the plant. The birds will still gain access to the plant. 

It is best to cover the net with a metal, wood, or plastic frame. This way, pheasants as well as other birds would be unable to access the plant. 

Making use of chicken wire: this method is suitable for newly sowed seeds, tubers. It keeps the birds from scratching the ground. 

Surprisingly, you can adjust the wire to accommodate the growing plant as it grows. This is done by either raising the wire on poles or bending it around hoops. 

Make use of scarecrows: Scarecrows can be used to scare the birds away from the garden. Scarecrows work perfectly however, they should be changed and moved often. This is to prevent it from appearing unreal to birds. 

You can construct your scarecrow. But, ensure you make it lightweight and simple to move. This will help you reposition it regularly to keep the birds guessing.

Make use of scent repellents: Using scent repellents such as essential oils, garlic, and cayenne pepper can stop bird activities in the garden. 

You can also make homemade bird repellant spray. Chili peppers, apple cider vinegar, mixed with water make a great combination of a homemade repellant spray.

How Do I Stop Pheasants From Digging Holes In The Ground? 

Digging the ground for pheasants is a natural instinct. And as earlier stated, pheasants dig holes for certain reasons which are somewhat beneficial to them. 

However, Pheasants should only be stopped from digging holes in the case of a garden.

As natural as it is for birds to dig, there are several valid reasons to want birds to stop digging up the soil in your garden. 

The digging can cause a lot of harm to plants and even seeds in the ground as earlier stated.

Hence certain measures need to be taken to stop them from digging the ground in the case of a garden. 

The steps to prevent pheasants from causing harm to your gardens have been previously discussed. 


Pheasants like most birds have an instinct for digging holes. They dig holes to search for food, lay their eggs, and have a dust bath.

Dust baths keep their feathers in good condition. 

However, pheasants can destroy your gardens by digging holes. So, it is best to safeguard your garden from them. 

Photo of author

About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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