Upland Gamebird Studies
ACA is striving to improve habitat that benefits upland gamebirds. We are engaged in several programs aimed at improving habitat (Habitat Legacy Partnership, Demonstration Farm) as well as re-establishing gamebird numbers (4-H Raise and Release, Pheasant Release Program) to improve hunting opportunities in the future. To better understand habitat features and treatments that provide viable recruitment and survival, we monitor upland bird trends in select locations. We also monitor the dispersal and survival of hen pheasants to understand and improve the efficiency of pen-reared releases. In late summer 2014, we surveyed 30 km of high-quality habitat and flushed 73 pheasants and 397 partridge. Encounter rates for partridge coveys were higher than the two previous years, with >3.5 coveys per hour. Only 6 of 50 pen-reared, radio collared hen pheasants were alive after 20 weeks, with 29 confirmed mortalities and 15 of unknown fate. A surprising outcome was the rapid dispersal of released hens from areas with good concealment cover and high food availability. Some hens travelled at least 17 linear kilometres from the release area, with most surviving hens associated with cattail complexes. Population trends of upland gamebirds vary with habitat conditions from year to year. Understanding the patterns of recruitment and survival with respect to habitat will help direct our projects that seek to re-establish gamebirds over time.
Landowners, Pheasants Forever – Calgary Chapter, Volunteers
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