The impact that a cold and snowy Iowa winter and driest spring since 1994 had on pheasant nesting success will likely be seen when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts its annual roadside pheasant counts between Aug. 1-15.
The statewide survey is conducted by Iowa DNR staff who drive 218, 30-mile routes on gravel roads at dawn on mornings with heavy dew. Hen pheasants will move their broods to the edge of the gravel road to dry off before they begin feeding, which makes them easier to count.
“We had a cold and snowy winter from early January till February, which hurts hen survival, then a warm up, and a good March and April – the dry spring was a positive for nest success – so the model says our pheasant population we will likely be status quo to a slightly increasing,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR. “It will be interesting to see the survey results. The conditions for the survey are important as the accuracy of the counts depend on the dew conditions when the routes are run. While the drought conditions have eased across most of Iowa, we are still fairly dry.”
The August roadside survey has been conducted over the same routes since 1962. In addition to pheasants and quail, the survey collects data on partridge, cottontails and jackrabbits. Results will be posted online at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey in early September. Iowa’s pheasant season begins Oct. 30.