Sunday, July 7, 2013

ND Pheasant Crowing Counts Down Statewide 2013

North Dakota’s 2013 pheasant crowing count survey indicates that rooster numbers were down about 11 percent statewide compared to last year, heading into the spring breeding season.

All four pheasant districts had lower counts than last year. 
The number of crows heard in the northeast declined by 18
percent, southeast and southwest by 11 percent, and the 
northwest by nearly 2 percent.

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the 
State Game and Fish Department, said only the southwest 
was initially spared a harsh winter, but a spring snowstorm 
in April buried much of the area in more than 
12 inches of snow.

“Had it not been for the long winter in most of the 
state and the April storm, I would have expected a higher 
crow count statewide this spring,” Kohn said. “But I 
think we did lose some birds during late spring, 
which reduced our 2013 spring breeding population 
slightly from 2012.”

The late spring snowstorms and cooler than normal 
April delayed breeding and nesting for all upland 
game birds, Kohn said, with early nesting hens facing 
rainy conditions, and probably some flooded nests. 
“On the positive side, this occurred early enough in 
the nesting season that most hens should have renested,” 
he added. “In addition, the wet spring seemed to 
jump start grass and forb growth in pastures, helping 
later nesting pheasants with improved quality of 
nesting habitat. Unless we experience some early s
ummer weather problems, I still expect much better 
upland game production this summer from all our species.” 

However, Kohn noted, the loss of CRP is going to 
reduce nesting and brooding cover in the future, 
and will negatively affect the pheasant population.

Spring crowing count data is not a good indicator of the 
fall population. It does not measure population density, 
but provides an index of the spring rooster population 
based on a trend of number of crows heard. Brood 
surveys, which begin in mid-July and are completed 
by September, are a better indicator of the summer’s 
pheasant production and provide insight into what to 
expect for a fall pheasant population.

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring 
throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 
20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, 
and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard 
crowing over a two-minute period during the stop. 
The number of pheasant crows heard is compared 
to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary.

Original ND Game and Fish post

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