Tuesday, June 30, 2020

North Dakota 2020 pheasant crowing counts up 15% from last year

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up 15% from the same time last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department’s 2020 spring crowing count survey.

R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was up statewide, with increases ranging from 1% to 18% in the primary regions holding pheasants.

“We entered spring with a larger breeding population compared to last year,” Gross said. “Hens should be in good physical shape for nesting season and cover should be plentiful from the residual moisture left from last fall.”

However, Gross said there is concern with drought conditions in the western part of the state, and whether insects will be available to chicks for brood rearing.

“I am hopeful for above-average chick survival due to the lush cover and predicted warm temperatures, but we can use some rain,” Gross said. “But we don’t want any severe weather events.” 

While the spring number is an indicator, Gross said it does not predict what the fall population will look like. Brood surveys, which begin in late July and are completed by September, provide a much better estimate of summer pheasant production and what hunters might expect for a fall pheasant population.

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stop at predetermined intervals, and count the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period during the stop.
The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to the previous year’s data, providing a trend summary.

Read the full ND Game and Fish article

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Iowa’s 2020 pheasant nesting outlook positive after mild winter

Iowa’s recent mild winter and dryer than normal April and May could lead to positive results for pheasant hunters this fall. Hen survival increases during mild winters, and more hens mean more nests and more nests typically means more pheasants in the fall.

Statewide snowfall from December through March was seven inches below the 1961-90 average and Iowa’s lowest snowfall total since 2012. Snowfall was below normal in all regions of the state. Winter hen survival was likely above normal for most regions for both pheasant and bobwhite quail.

Statewide the spring months were drier and colder than the 1961-90 average. The spring came early with little snow cover in March. April and May nesting season was cooler than normal and rainfall was one inch below the 1961-90 average. This is Iowa’s lowest nesting season rainfall since 1994. 

Reports of early and large pheasant broods have been reported, suggesting a good hatch is underway. 

The nesting forecast is based on a model that compares 30 years of weather data with the corresponding pheasant counts in August. This prediction is a best guess based on weather data, and it can be wrong. The DNR's August roadside survey is the best gauge of what upland populations will be this fall.  The DNR will post its August roadside numbers online at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey around Sept. 15.