Restocking land with birds

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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby crackerd » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:10 pm

Willie T wrote:Spend your effort and money on habitat improvement. If you get favorable weather for a multiple hatches and have a resident population they will flourish. Dry spring and summer years the quail just hang on. In those years show restraint in your harvest. Quail are a boom and bust species. Improved pasture is a death sentence for them.


Alas, Willie T, "Spend your effort and money on habitat improvement" had me harking back to yesteryear for a rather infamous local account of doing exactly that, albeit in a rather nefarious way that might have been called "raptor destocking!" http://birdstuff.blogspot.com/2002/09/wealthy-chrysler-heiress-fined-for.html

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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Willie T » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:09 pm

Released pen raised birds have a poor track record of survival instincts in the wild....
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby blue04 » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:34 pm

People abuse the term "pen raised" when talking about birds. There is a whole range of what "pen raised" means. It could be anything from essentially tame to quite fearful and cautious. The main things that a lot of "pen raised" birds lack is the ability to avoid predators and ability to forage for native feed.

You can improve the former by making your flight pens as large as possible and putting them in a very remote place (away from your main house/barn/etc.). You essentially don't want the young birds to see people, and you want predators like hawks, racoons, coyotes, etc. to be able to harass them without actually getting in to kill them. It's not hard to create a feeding system for fight pens so that you can feed and water them without having to be seen much and without having to enter the pen at all.

For the latter, I'd suggest letting natural cover grow up inside your flight pens and plant some strips of millet or other grain in there so that the birds can forage a bit for themselves. Planting grain in your pens will also reduce your feed bill to some degree, which is nice.

You might also experiment with Johnny houses, where you can rear birds in the field where they will live and then flush them out periodically to find food and fly. if you make sure you leave a bird or two in the pen and create an entrance tunnel you can use this to get them used to life in the wild.

Sadly, quail are dumb. I have often wondered whether we've bred the smarts out of domestic quail. Chukar aren't much better, but their larger size makes them more resistant to various things like weather. Pheasants have the best survival rate in my experience, but are also the most expensive.

I have no experience with the surrogator.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby JTracyII » Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:58 pm

Hey Travis,

I’m from Noble OK area. I have a couple of coveys around most of the year as well, but every year around December or January they disappear until I hear them whistling around the place when Spring comes. It’s always good to hear them as it reminds me they are still there. After nesting season they covey back up and I can begin to get my dogs on them for training again. Yours might have moved locations or to different cover like these seem too.
Oxbow's Kindle the Fire, UT I, 201 pts, NA I 108 pts.
Cross Timber's Above and Beyond, NA I, 110 pts.
https://crosstimbergundogs.com/
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:18 pm

The state of Utah has a trap and transplant program for quail (Valley, Gambels & Scaled) Sharpatail grouse and Sage grouse: they don't have one for pheasants as they don't seem to have any excess to trap. The sacred mantra of most state wildlife agencies is,"if you build it, they will come", which is certainly true. My question is: What happens if they cannot get there? Pheasants are neither sharptail grouse nor sage grouse; they do not just decide to fly 2 to 3 miles on a whim. It is my information that they will not travel any further 1/2 mile from any existing habitat that meets their needs. There is suitable habitat where I live, 35 acres of mine plus an adjacent 80 to 120 acres: there are no pheasants. I had a PhD in Wildlife look at the place, and state, "They should be here". The last batch of Surrogator birds (pheasants) was the ONLY batch that lasted more than 2 weeks. ( I put the unit in a different place) I have seen three hens on the place, where I have seen none in the past. How do I know they are from the Surrogator? One of the hens was a melanistic chick, and is now a dark chocolate colored hen. State agencies, in particular Idaho, DO NOT WANT IT TO WORK, nor do they wish to start a trap and transplant program. It seems as if a Master Degree convinces a person there is no such thing as a lack of a travel corridor or a suitable habitat that does not already have birds. One of my questions is, "Why can't a pheasant or quail go feral, as other animals do"? Perhaps pheasants go feral easier than quail, but that might depend on species; I am told Scaled Quail, even from hatchery stock, are not totally domesticated.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby orhunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:17 pm

Pheasant survival is highest when released before they acquire adult plumage. After that, they are too domesticated to make a living in the wild. Pheasants switch from a meat/bug diet to vegetarian at 6 to 8 weeks of age and this is prime time for release. Miss this window and the odds for survival go down.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:20 pm

Orhunter,

The protocol for the Surrogator is release of pheasants at 4 weeks, quail at 5 weeks. The unit keeps the birds from getting habituated to humans, which is most of the purpose. I released the birds in perfect timing with the late summer grasshopper hatch, which seemed to work well. They have pin feathers and can fly at 4 weeks, the strongest about 50 yards or so.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:23 pm

An article about the very topic we are discussing, albeit from Idaho, not Oklahoma. I think the principle(s) are still applicable.
https://magicvalley.com/search/?sd=desc ... land+birds
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby orhunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:48 pm

JABH: Cool. Got bugs/cover = good survival.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:26 pm

Just-a-bird-hunter wrote:An article about the very topic we are discussing, albeit from Idaho, not Oklahoma. I think the principle(s) are still applicable.
https://magicvalley.com/search/?sd=desc ... land+birds


Missouri needs to engage in a trap and transfer program of wild pheasants. We have empty habitat and pheasants are not migratory birds that are going to find it. The portion of the article about Utah says the same as what I have said to our DNR. It falls on deaf ears. All they know is to babble about habitat. What they fail to hear is we have suitable but empty habitat just as the article highlighted in the author's experience in Idaho.

As when they were first established, what we need is a re-introduction of wild stock, trapped and transferred wild birds.

We have spent a fortune re-establishing a tiny elk herd in the Ozarks which we cannot effectively protect against poaching and will never yield anything more than winning the lottery odds of any specific Sportsman getting to legally hunt them. We continue to spend a fortune on Prairie Chickens which are doomed in our state because we have but a postage stamp of suitable habitat left and it is far too fragmented to ever restore a viable population. We are spending a fortune presently trying to re-establish Ruffed Grouse, yet again.

But we will not spend a dime to re-introduce Pheasants which once provided a wide spread opportunity for Sportsmen all across the northern third of our State.
In the 80s and 90s daily limits of wild roosters were common all across that region and could be again. Further working against it is the fact that Pheasants are non-native wildlife which makes some purists in our department dead set against putting resources towards pheasants.

Related to this our once flourishing Wild Turkey Flock continues to decline and the Conservation Department does nothing. Their own studies have documented the overwhelming harm on nesting success from our out of control raccoon population and yet they do nothing to reclassify them from Furbearer to Vermin. Nor have they extended the trapping and hunting seasons past the Deer seasons such that many private lands currently off limits to trappers and coon hunters during November and December deer seasons would be opened up for trapping and coon hunting during Feb and March. I wrote them a letter encouraging them to do so and the response was we added 15 days back in 2004. That was 15 years ago when a fur market still existed! Wow, Classic Government at its worst.

Our Department used to be a source of pride. No longer.

Kudos to Utah for doing what they are doing.

Surrogators are nothing but an expensive put and take proposition. If a person wants to spend the money it can provide some decent recreation the fall following the release, but it never results in a viable self sustaining population of wild birds.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:40 pm

AG,
You and I are on the same page; I might disagree slightly with your last sentence. I think the success of the Surrogator IS low, but what I am seeing is real. Pheasant hens in the area and on the property; the melanistic hen came from the batch released in early September. Let's just say I am going to arrange for a rooster migration in January or February of next year. What I keep trying to tell those in Natural Resource Management is this: If people are willing to purchase land, plant nesting cover, hedgerows et al, then they will figure out how to get birds on their property, by hook or crook. The sacred mantra of, "If you build it, they will come", is absolutely true, but sometimes, birds need help finding their way. :D
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Re: Restocking land with birds

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:55 pm

AG,

In reading your posts, I have a feeling you are/were a Natural Resource Professional (biologist/manager) I have a past life with a natural resource agency also; still recovering. :twisted:
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