Pheasants in the Winter Months
During the coldest month of the year, January, pheasants require twice the energy they burned in October. Yet with adequate habitat, their body fat content can be at its highest in January.
Pheasant bio-energetics requires the birds have three cover types to help survive the coldest of winters. The cover types are roosting, loafing, and food cover. Winter habitat includes grass cover for roosting at night, trees and shrubs to loaf in during the day, and food.
The purpose of each is to reduce the pheasants’ vulnerability to predators, to reduce the birds’ energy requirements, and to increase the body fat content of hens for spring nesting. For each 160 acres, 5 acres should be set aside to provide each of these covers. The relationship of theses covers to each other is also important. Ideally, each cover requirement should be located next to the other, or at most, one quarter mile apart.
With the first deep snow or ice storm, people start to worry about pheasants starving. Keep in mind though, that death due to starving during inclement weather is extremely rare if they have adequate winter habitat. The importance of habitat year-round is paramount to pheasants.
The Big Spur Blog is written by Jesse Beckers, Pheasants Forever’s Regional Wildlife Biologist for North Dakota. If you have a pheasant habitat or pheasant biology question for Jesse, email him at JBeckers@pheasantsforever.org.
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