by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC
Believe it or not, pheasants are starting to make a comeback in different parts of Southern Michigan. The trail camera picture shows a flock of pheasants flying by, and believe it or not, those are pheasants on a parcel of well managed habitat in Gratiot County. The phrase, build it and they will come, is proving true in pockets around Michigan, where well managed native grasslands have been established. Whether you know you have pheasants, or if you hope you have pheasants, running a crowing count this spring is a great way to get outside, watch the sunrise, and listen for crowing pheasants.
These surveys can be conducted by one person, or you can organize with a couple other friends and plan out a couple routes that can be monitored each year. You want to plan on conducting at least three surveys on calm mornings between May 1 and May 20. The temperature should be above 32 degrees, and wind should be blowing less than 12 mph, and there should not be precipitation. These factors help increase the odds that the pheasants will be crowing, and you will be able to hear them.
An important part of these surveys, is that they should be the same route so that you can compare your findings to each other from this spring, but also any other years you run the survey. You want to start your route about 30 minute before sunrise. Plan out 10-20 listening points you plan to stop at that are evenly distributed across your route.
At each stopping point, record the time you stop, walk 15-20 feet away from your car and listen for three minutes. Record the number of crows you heard, and be sure to record the other sound disturbance you may have heard as well. There is a check box on the survey (available with the link below) that indicates the following disturbance levels: No = no interfering noise, Low = distant traffic, Med = intermittent traffic, Hi = heavy continuous traffic.
Record all your stopping points as quickly and accurately as possible. The stopping points do not need to be along a road. If there is a property you have access to walk, and you want to survey that, you may establish points on that property. Record the weather conditions as well. There is a form for your convenience here, and once completed, the surveys can be emailed to email@example.com
NOTE: It is important that you conduct your survey THREE TIMES to help ensure quality! You should have data on each of your points three times, three different days.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
More resources are available here.
Information about the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative can be found here.