Posts Tagged ‘pheasants winter cover’

Annual Report – Top 10 Wetland Acres Chapters

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Wetland complexes provide winter cover necessary for pheasants to make it through the toughest season. Photo by Todd Sauers / Pheasants Forever

Wetland complexes provide winter cover necessary for pheasants to make it through the toughest season. Photo by Todd Sauers / Pheasants Forever

In addition to their obvious importance for nesting and/or migratory waterfowl, wetland habitats provide key winter cover for upland birds These Pheasants Forever chapters conserved the most wetland acres in 2013.

Top 10 Wetland Habitat Chapters
Lyman County (SD) 1,200
Nemaha Valley (NE) 402
Black Hills (SD) 200
Pheasant Country (SD) 200
Iroquois River (IN) 125
Erie / Ottawa / Sandusky (OH) 107
Upper Snake River (ID) 100
Ozaukee County (WI) 58
Tri-County (PA) 54
Southeastern Wisconsin (WI) 28

 

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Habitat Reduces Risk of Pheasants Freezing to Death

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Protective shelterbelts help pheasants conserve 3 percent of their daily energy. PF File Photo

Protective shelterbelts help pheasants conserve daily energy, reducing their risk of freezing to death and ensuring they come through winter strong for breeding season. PF File Photo

The major cause of pheasant winter mortality is not starvation, it is freezing. The pheasant’s physiological processes can produce only so much heat, and as temperatures drop, more and more body heat is lost to the surrounding air. At some temperature, called the “lower critical temperature,” more heat is lost than can be produced, and the bird freezes.

Pheasants will spend their winter nights roosting in grass cover or wetlands. The dead grass of roosting cover makes a nice insulated bed which protects birds from the wind. While the temperature near their beds may be 0°F, the 20 mph wind three feet above their heads produces a -39°F wind chill. To survive the 0°F in the grass, the pheasants must use 22.42 kcal of energy each hour. Without the grass cover, the pheasant needs 28.01 kcal each hour to survive the -39°F wind chill – meaning inadequate cover causes them to burn 25 percent more per hour. It’s difficult enough trying to survive a 16-hour night, then having to expend 25 percent more energy to get through it.

The use of shelterbelts and woody draws as loafing cover provides even greater energy benefits than roosting cover. Not only does a well-designed tree belt negate the energy costs of wind chill, it produces a warmer temperature inside the belt than outside the belt. With the still air inside a belt and the solar collection ability of dark-colored conifers, the temperature within a belt can be 5°F warmer than the surrounding air. In such a belt, pheasants can survive with 3 percent less energy.

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.

Pheasants in the Winter Months

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Habitat is the key for pheasants in winter and all year long.

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.

The Where’s of Winter Cover

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Map from The Essential Habitat Guide, available through Pheasants Forever.

The old joke is the first thing that stops the prairie wind in the Dakotas is Minnesota. Don’t believe it? Just ask a pheasant.

As a follow up to the recent and excellent Pheasant Blog post Winter Cover Basics by Jesse Beckers, Pheasants Forever Regional Wildlife Biologist in North Dakota, it’s interesting to look at where thermal, commonly called “winter” cover, is most needed by pheasants.

As illustrated in the figure, save for South Dakota, half of North Dakota, eastern Montana and northeast Wyoming, a lack of quality nesting cover is the “limiting factor” for pheasant populations; in the aforementioned states, not enough quality winter cover is what tends to prohibit pheasant populations. Simply put, blizzards in those states can bury pheasants alive, literally, before they have a chance to reproduce. In the rest of the country, pheasants could always use more places (grasslands) to reproduce.

This doesn’t mean nesting cover isn’t a consideration for the Dakotas, or that winter cover isn’t important outside the dark green shaded area. Quite the contrary, in fact, as both are important pheasant habitat components anywhere in pheasant country; it’s the overall need in each selected region that’s distinct.

It’s also interesting to note that two of the top pheasant producing states – South Dakota and North Dakota – are places where winter cover deficiencies can be detrimental to pheasants.  That’s a testament to the ring-necked pheasant’s hardiness and powers of proliferation. Get enough birds through those brutal winters, give them ample amounts of grass to nest in and they’ll multiply. And that’s no joke.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist