The extent of impact that a late winter and heavy rains and flooding in northern Iowa in June and July had on pheasant nesting success will likely be seen when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts its annual pheasant counts.
The statewide survey takes place Aug. 1-15.
The 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.
“Conditions for the survey are important,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR. “We want to see an accurate count. Last year we were in a drought and the dry conditions likely didn’t accurately reflect the population.”
While Bogenschutz, expects Iowa’s pheasant count to be down, he is optimistic about quail.
“The last five years have been pretty good for quail,” he said. “They’ve had a pretty good winter and spring in southern Iowa so I’m hoping to see similar to better numbers than last year. The counts all depend on the dew conditions when the routes are run.”
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 by Sept. 10. Iowa’s pheasant season begins Oct. 27.