|Monday, 11/3/14, our group was joined by Tim Lyons. Tim is a Graduate
Research Assistant of the Department of NRES, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign. He made a presentation of a study his group is
conducting at some area farms. Their group was placing transmitters
on both adult & chick pheasants to track their survival in different types
habitat. The transmitters are tracked with the use of antennas that were
installed in the study fields. This is the first year of the data collection &
Tim stressed it would be three years before they could develope meaningful
Tim can be reached at email@example.com. or 217-244-6748.
11/2/15 - This was a follow up provided by Tim at our last meeting.
Pheasant reproductive success was high this year, consistent with what has been seen across the Midwest. Most pheasants successfully hatched their first nests. A few required a second or third attempt. We only found one hen who, after three attempts, did not hatch a nest. Despite heavy rains, brood survival was exceptionally high as well. Brood flush counts conducted ~15-20d post-hatch suggest that brood sized ranged from 6-10 chicks. Survival data from individual chicks marked with radio-transmitters suggest that most chick mortality occurs in the first 2d after hatching. In few instances, we observed complete brood mortality, which we attribute to a nest hatching on or within 1d of a heavy rainfall; I observed dead chicks within 1-2m of a nest known to hatch on a rainy day. Collectively, we believe this suggests that most brood mortality is weather-related. Still, recruitment this year has been greater than in years past, according to long-term data collected from various state agencies throughout the Midwest.
Habitat use and dispersal
Similar to previous years, most pheasants nested in native grasses and forbs. While these nests were often initiated earlier and succeeded at a higher rate compared to nests in exotic grasses or other cover types, these differences were not statistically significant. Following hatch, birds primarily used native plantings, but utilized agricultural fields to a greater extent as broods aged. During the spring, adult birds seemed to prefer native vegetation, possibly because these areas had standing residual vegetation that provided greater concealment. Yet as the season progressed, males and non-reproductive females used agricultural fields almost exclusively and only roosting on grassland fields. Similar to past years, we have observed no dispersal or movement among fields.