Kansas’ pheasant population continues to recover from the severe drought from 2011-2014 that pushed numbers to record lows. Following a brood count increase of 51 percent last summer, spring crowing counts
– the number of crows heard from male pheasants – were up 30 percent statewide this spring.
While spring crow counts usually do not predict fall populations well, they do indicate breeding population potential. The regional breakdown of the Kansas Pheasant Crowing Survey is as follows: Flint Hills (-16 percent), Glaciated Plains (-6 percent), Northern High Plains (+44 percent), Southern High Plains (+171 percent), Smokey Hills (no change) and the South-Central Prairies (+21 percent).
Kansas still supports a healthy population of pheasants across the primary range. As weather has improved, pheasant populations have demonstrated their ability to recover quickly, with indices in some areas increasing >300 percent in a single year. As conditions continue to improve, birds will disperse to occupy adequate habitat.
Spring rains have created excellent nesting cover and should produce good brood habitat across the primary pheasant range in 2016, but conditions from late June through August will dictate survival. Fall pheasant populations are highly dependent on production and survival of the year’s young. Brood survey data will be collected in late July and August, and summarized in early September. Fall population estimates will be much more accurate once this data is available.
Written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever
Photo credits: Main image – Steven Kersting via flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; First image – Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism