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May 29, 2018 by

It's May 29th.  Prime pheasant nesting season.  You'd think that after being in the field working habitat since 2002 I would have seen a nest or two.  I have not.  This is the first one.   Maybe pheasants are good nest hiders or maybe I have a hard time finding a golf ball in the rough.

This nest occurred in a failed switchgrass planting from 2017.  I was in spraying and planting a new mixture (lesson learned) of warm season grasses for heavy winter cover.  I bumped this bird off the nest first with a sprayer pass and thought it was a duck at first because eggs were so large.  On the next planting pass I was fortunate enough to see the hen on the nest as I approached.  She flushed again and I got out, snapped a pic  and planted a circle around the nest as to mark it and avoid it in the future.  We will keep tabs on this nesting progress and hopefully post the next series in this story called "Hatch!".

As you can see in this nest their are 10 eggs.  Not huge but not small in number either.  Biologists say that 65% of these eggs will be roosters.  That's 6-7 roosters if my math is close.  The good news this year on nest success is the brood rearing cover around the state is excellent.  I almost cannot get out of the tractor cab at night because of the bugs around.

It sure feels like pheasants are nesting en mass right now because I am not seeing much activity except for a few birds at dusk.  It takes 45 days from nesting inception to hatch.  That's nest building, breeding, egg laying and incubation.  All this in undisturbed nesting cover.  That's why it is critical to have undisturbed nesting habitat from, ideally, April 15 through July 15.

Usually I see pheasant chicks by now but spring and our hatch appear to be pushed back along with everything else agriculture.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Posted in: News, Pheasant Outlook, Conservation, Habitat Management

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