North Dakota’s spring pheasant crowing count survey revealed a 10 percent increase statewide compared to last year.
All four pheasant districts showed an increase compared to last year. The number of crows heard in the southeast increased by 12 percent, northwest by 8 percent, northeast by 6 percent and southwest by 4 percent.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said birds did not experience excessive mortality last winter.
“Even with the nice winter last year, I anticipated fewer adult birds to be available this spring because poor production in spring of 2009-11 led to fewer young birds entering the fall population,” Kohn said. “However, I did expect to see higher crow count numbers in the southwest because good numbers of birds were observed last winter, but it didn’t pan out in the crow count numbers.”
Even with a somewhat smaller breeding class of birds, Kohn said hens were in better shape this spring because of less winter stress. In addition, he said nesting habitat looked to be in pretty good condition in all areas of the state, and nesting and brooding weather this spring has been almost ideal.
“I expect much better upland game production this summer,” Kohn added. “Pheasant hens are finding better quality nesting and brooding cover on the uplands this spring, and with the good weather, more hens were successful with first clutches, a positive sign of a good production year.”
However, Kohn noted, the loss of CRP is going to decrease nesting and brooding cover in the future, and will negatively affect the pheasant population.
Spring crowing count data is not always 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.