Where there were birds

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isonychia
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Where there were birds

Post by isonychia » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:04 pm

My personal take based on my ecology background, as to why so many areas are seeing a lot less birds than used to be. listed in order of importance:

#1)Habitat loss. Less farmers, and more efficient mega farmers that leave little habitat behind. Also less forestry and fire suppression. With fire suppression being the worst factor. Burn areas here where I live produce ridiculous source population blue grouse habitat.

#2)Herbicides, insecticides, GMO; less bugs less field birds. Less weeds in the corn fields, less cover; less protection thus less field birds

#3)Climate change; drought periods, flood periods, crazy hail events, heat stress, all have been HUGELY significant for western birds just recently

#4)Predators; You guys think coyote are a problem? The western/rocky states have had them naturally for centuries and yet people still travel to these coyote heavens to hunt birds, I doubt they have a large impact. Turkey on the other hand may, and we will come to find out soon in Colorado, but I do love those increasing turkey numbers come spring time! Just remember, correlation does not always mean causation!

Max2
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Max2 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:54 am

Here in upstate NY Hawks & owls are the biggest predator to grouse in my opinion. I am sure turkeys do there share of damage also.

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Hattrick
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Hattrick » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:38 am

Birds of prey are a big factor to when you add all those other factors in to a declining population. It sucks

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by cjhills » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:07 am

The main factor in the pheasant producing states is loss of crp and crp the is too old. All the other things contribute somewhat, but birds can overcome these if they have good nesting habitat. Old crp which is mostly very tall and thick prairie grasses is not good for nesting or raising broods. General drought over the western states has probably been one of the biggest factors recently but loss of crp will be the long term issue in the pheasant areas.
In the Sharptail and Hun areas it is pretty much weather related. The winter of 2010 and 2011 was one of the worst ever in Montana and North Dakota. Cold wet springs and dry summers hurt. CJ

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Stoneface » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:21 pm

I have never understood how so many folks think predators could take that kind of toll on upland populations. I mean, how often does a birddog catch a wild bird? If Coyotes could do it so easily, why wouldn't someone have ever trained dogs to just catch the birds and bring them back? It makes no sense to me. And I haven't heard of a massive blow up in the population of snakes or anything.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by topher40 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:35 pm

Rowdy a birddog wont catch the bird because of two things. It has probably been trained not to and the dog doesnt depend on the meal like a yote. Yotes dont catch many birds so the yote argument is a moot point. A starving animal that has to rely on its own wit is capable of amazing things. There are twenty different arguments to the cause and effect of bird populations and each one has some level of validity.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Cajun Casey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:41 pm

Nest and juvenile depredation is a factor, not just predation of adult birds.

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deseeker
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by deseeker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:51 pm

Stoneface wrote:I have never understood how so many folks think predators could take that kind of toll on upland populations. I mean, how often does a birddog catch a wild bird? If Coyotes could do it so easily, why wouldn't someone have ever trained dogs to just catch the birds and bring them back? It makes no sense to me. And I haven't heard of a massive blow up in the population of snakes or anything.
Before I had britts, I had springers. You'd be surprised how many they would catch during a 3 month hunting season. They averaged about 15 a season (most were early season young of the year). Imagine how many a coyote (an excellent hunting machine) could catch in a full year (getting even younger/dumber little ones and hens sitting on their nests).
I do agree with an earlier post that loss of CRP is the bigest downfall to loss of birds.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Birddog3412 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:03 pm

The coyote, dog, turkey, deer.....whatever, they dont have to catch the covey birds to kill them. They bust a covey by accident or on purpose at dusk (heck even in the middle of the night) and the birds dont have time to covey up before dark and freeze. But like several of you I do not think this is the biggest problem.

On a 5 day hunt in South Dakota I would say my buddies labs will catch a couple a piece pretty easily. Ive had young pointers catch them also.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by birdogg42 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:19 pm

Birddog3412 wrote:The coyote, dog, turkey, deer.....whatever, they dont have to catch the covey birds to kill them. They bust a covey by accident or on purpose at dusk (heck even in the middle of the night) and the birds dont have time to covey up before dark and freeze. But like several of you I do not think this is the biggest problem.

On a 5 day hunt in South Dakota I would say my buddies labs will catch a couple a piece pretty easily. Ive had young pointers catch them also.
X2

Mike

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by cjuve » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:25 pm

I cannot speak as to the issues on the East Coast or the midwest but generally speaking in the West if the weather does not cooperate then you have poor nesting success, I believe that this is the single biggest issue facing the bird populations that I hunt.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Brooks Carmichael » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:31 pm

Here is my two cents. Habitat has a great deal to do with loss in bird numbers, spring rains right when the birds hatch has a tremendous effect on survival of chicks. This is in negative way. But, us not forget the house cat. It kills more birds then any natural predator out there. Yes, hawks and owls do take a few but for the most part they are mousers. Coyotes are mousers also, but they do take there share of other small mammals, like possums, skunks, rabbits etc. I have read a number of studies on turkey predation . There has been no facts to show as of yet turkey's have an effect on young pheasants or quail.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Steve007 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:36 pm

Stoneface wrote:I have never understood how so many folks think predators could take that kind of toll on upland populations. I mean, how often does a birddog catch a wild bird? If Coyotes could do it so easily, why wouldn't someone have ever trained dogs to just catch the birds and bring them back? It makes no sense to me. And I haven't heard of a massive blow up in the population of snakes or anything.

"Predators" includes hawks (and owls) which you can't shoot anymore. People used to hang them on fenceposts. Also as Cajuncasey has rightly observed,nest predation from skunks, raccoons, possums is a big problem. Predators means more than coyotes.

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sdoliver
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by sdoliver » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:49 pm

There are more predators than just yotes. Skunks Coons and Possums raiding nests is probably more detrimental than yotes catching adult birds. Bird dogs are hunting during the day when the birds are awake. Yotes are hunting at night when the birds are bedded down and asleep.
I think for the last 4 or 5 years here in the central part of the US we have just had a "perfect storm" of all the things that could go wrong, going wrong.
We just need to do what we can to improve all of the factors to give the wild life every chance of survival we can.

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UpNorthHuntin
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by UpNorthHuntin » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:21 pm

Brooks Carmichael wrote:Here is my two cents. Habitat has a great deal to do with loss in bird numbers, spring rains right when the birds hatch has a tremendous effect on survival of chicks. This is in negative way. But, us not forget the house cat. It kills more birds then any natural predator out there. Yes, hawks and owls do take a few but for the most part they are mousers. Coyotes are mousers also, but they do take there share of other small mammals, like possums, skunks, rabbits etc. I have read a number of studies on turkey predation . There has been no facts to show as of yet turkey's have an effect on young pheasants or quail.
I would agree that seasonal whether has a great deal, but the argument of habitat I would say (at least in Michigan) has decimated the Pheasants. The areas that I have Grouse Hunted since age 14 haven't changed a bit since I was 14. It is all national Forest and is basically the same. The coyote has hurt the turkey population as well. But with respect to grouse, as habitat changes (clear cut 5-10 year aspen growth grows up) wouldn't you think that the Grouse would migrate to new growth forests for the desired habitat? They seem to have disappeared. The DNR in Lake County, MI conducted a test a couple years back. Tagged Birds, Turkeys, and especuially deer, due to the amounts of complaints of an explosion in coyote numbers. I never did see the published results of the birds, but in Whitetails, of the 16 fawns that were tagged, only one survived. They were all victims of coyotes. The result was a change in the season to allow the killing of more coyotes and it is working. Last year I actually saw more birds, turkeys, and young fawns. I don't think it is the mature birds that are at risk from predation as much as the young, but if a bird has 4 or 5 young and they are all eaten, then the end is still the same=no birds.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Cajun Casey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:30 pm

Accelerated decline of bobwhite quail (and other ground nesting species) has also occured geographically with the north/northeastward migration of the _______________.

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Where there were birds

Post by ACooper » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:42 pm

Feral pigs? Eurasian collared dove?

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Brazosvalleyvizslas
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Brazosvalleyvizslas » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:49 pm

Fire Ant.

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Tyler S
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Tyler S » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:58 pm

Cajun Casey wrote:Accelerated decline of bobwhite quail (and other ground nesting species) has also occured geographically with the north/northeastward migration of the _______________.
Solenopsis invicta or red imported fire ant. Introduced accidentally about 70 miles south of me in the 1930s.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Cajun Casey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:17 pm

Two correct answers and there is one more, at least. Ringneck doves, not so much, although they can be a disease/parasite vector, they would more likely affect their own family.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Tyler S » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:24 pm

Armadillos or cattle egrets?

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Cajun Casey » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:33 pm

Tyler S wrote:Armadillos or cattle egrets?
Armadillos, in my estimation.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by rschmeider » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:47 pm

Louse Fly...I am finding not so healthy Ruffed Grouse in the lower Apps with louse fly infestation..Some with half dozen on them.

IMO spreading West Niles to the birds...When i harvest a bird i can tell soon has i pick it up ..Thin in the chest

here is a pic/info...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippoboscidae
Last edited by rschmeider on Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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isonychia
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by isonychia » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:34 pm

Cajun Casey wrote:Accelerated decline of bobwhite quail (and other ground nesting species) has also occured geographically with the north/northeastward migration of the _______________.

Again, you cannot mistake correlation with causation

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Nest Predation

Post by RoostersMom » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:45 pm

Just an FYI, but the most effective nest predator on quail is the rat snake - not the possum, coon, or skunk! Redtailed hawks are huge predators on snakes.

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isonychia
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Re: Where there were birds

Post by isonychia » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:56 pm

Red tailed hawks - Genus Buteo - Don't seem to eat many pigeons around here, I have released tons of birds around them with no problem. It is the Accipiter's (Sharp shinned - Cooper's) that are really viscous around here. Also the Peregrines and Eagles.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by buckeyebowman » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:06 pm

I can only speak for where I live, NE Ohio. Back in the day, and I'm talking 30+ years ago. we'd hunt rabbit, pheasant, and quail in lots of places. It's easy to figure out what happened to the quail, the Winters of '77 and '78! Below zero temps, hip deep snow and blizzards both years. From '79 on there simply were no quail. There are still rabbits, but the pheasant are a conundrum. We have farms here, but usually not the "mega farms" referenced earlier. Some of the fields I hunted back then are still fields, the brushy tree lines are still there as are the thickets and brier patches. But the birds are not. So, what has changed? Many point to the proliferation of the coyote, and I'm sure they have some effect. Others blame turkey. In my opinion it comes down to hawks, owls and raccoons. Back when I first started hunting country folk would shoot hawks and owls. They didn't want them carrying away their chickens. Fur trapping was still a viable industry, and raccoons galore were trapped. Nowadays we have all three up to our clavicles.

The hunting club I belong to stocks pheasant for put & take hunting. I've found more pheasant carcasses than I care to remember with just the head missing. I've been told my more than one person that this is the sign of an owl kill. Don't know what owls would find so attractive about pheasant heads, but that's the local lore. Then we find pheasant carcasses that are just basically scattered feathers. This we figure for either 'yotes or yes, raccoon. I've seen with my own eyes raccoon stalking and trying to kill adult roosters! Have them performing double duty as nest raiders, and there go your upland birds.

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Re: Nest Predation

Post by Tyler S » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:57 pm

RoostersMom wrote:Just an FYI, but the most effective nest predator on quail is the rat snake - not the possum, coon, or skunk! Redtailed hawks are huge predators on snakes.
We don't have many snakes anymore... The hogs have eaten them.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Gertie » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:45 pm

Habitat loss, noxious weeds, and the roads that bring them. Bar none the biggest problems out here. Long cold springs don't help much either.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by fishvik » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:08 am

While loss of habitat is still the major cause of sage grouse decline, studies of nest predation of these birds have shown that ravens are one of the big culprits. Due to man caused changes on the landscape(ie. roads and roadkill and powerpoles and signs as hunting perches) we have increased the raven populations in the sagebrush-steppe communities. They also now stay year round because of the abundance of food along the roads.(Runover or thrown out). This has led to a boom in raven populations. The sheer numbers along with their ability as nest predators are why they are a problem.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by SD Pheasant Slayer » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:49 am

Coyotes get a lot of bad press, but according to the biologists working for Pheasants Forever it's not really deserved: http://www.pheasantsforever.org/page/1/predators.jsp For those that don't want to sift through it, the main point is that the nest raiders (skunks, coons, fox) are of the greatest detriment to the population. Some of their studies have shown that a healthy coyote population actually HELPS the pheasant population as their territorial nature and keeps the populations of the more detrimental species in check.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Gertie » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:16 am

fishvik wrote:While loss of habitat is still the major cause of sage grouse decline, studies of nest predation of these birds have shown that ravens are one of the big culprits. Due to man caused changes on the landscape(ie. roads and roadkill and powerpoles and signs as hunting perches) we have increased the raven populations in the sagebrush-steppe communities. They also now stay year round because of the abundance of food along the roads.(Runover or thrown out). This has led to a boom in raven populations. The sheer numbers along with their ability as nest predators are why they are a problem.
With regard to the sage grouse, I completely agree that ravens are a real issue. They've gotten very good at nest predation on both young chicks and eggs. The disturbance in the fire regime over the past 100 years has caused the landscape scale encroachment of juniper which provides perching platforms from which to hunt from. The presence of juniper in proximity to sage grouse nesting habitat decreases the likelihood of chick survival by a huge margin (can't remember the exact # but it was over 60%). Also, young sage grouse chicks depend heavily on nutrient dense forbs and insects, both of which are negatively impacted by the presence of juniper and that impact is compounded by the presence of noxious weeds like medusa head and cheat grass. There are plenty of other variables contributing to sage grouse decline but I think the big ones have been touched on. Good discussion.
Last edited by Gertie on Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by UpNorthHuntin » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:20 pm

Gertie wrote:
fishvik wrote:While loss of habitat is still the major cause of sage grouse decline, studies of nest predation of these birds have shown that ravens are one of the big culprits. Due to man caused changes on the landscape(ie. roads and roadkill and powerpoles and signs as hunting perches) we have increased the raven populations in the sagebrush-steppe communities. They also now stay year round because of the abundance of food along the roads.(Runover or thrown out). This has led to a boom in raven populations. The sheer numbers along with their ability as nest predators are why they are a problem.
With regard to the sage grouse, I complete agree that ravens are a real issue. They've gotten very good at nest predation on both young chicks and eggs. The disturbance in the fire regime has caused a landscape a scale encroachment of juniper which provides perching platforms from which to hunt from. The presence of juniper in proximity to sage grouse nesting habitat decreases the likelihood of chick survival by a huge margin (can't remember the exact # but it was over 60%). Also, young sage grouse chicks depend heavily on nutrient dense forbs and insects, both of which are negatively impacted by the presence of juniper and that impact is compounded by the presence of noxious weeds like medusa head and cheat grass. There are plenty of other variables contributing to sage grouse decline but I think the big ones have been touched on. Good discussion.
I didn't realize that Ravens were big nest robbers. That would make sense. In the last 5 years there has been an explosion in the Raven numbers in the Lake County area where I hunt. They are everywhere.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by Gertie » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:52 pm

I didn't realize that Ravens were big nest robbers. That would make sense. In the last 5 years there has been an explosion in the Raven numbers in the Lake County area where I hunt. They are everywhere.
I was referring specifically to ravens and sage grouse and, without more information, am not sure I'd make a correlation between ravens and any declines in the types of birds you are hunting there (assuming grouse, quail, and pheasant?). I suspect that ravens and your native species of upland birds have evolved together for some time and those birds (with the exception of the pheasant possibly) may have developed strategies for surviving around ravens. Although, a large increase in the number of ravens could potentially have an impact. Sage grouse on the other hand have historically had little interaction with ravens prior to the past 100 years (ravens came with the juniper trees, roads, and power poles) and they do not have good strategies to avoid predation by this species but, in general, have historically held their own with the presence of species they normally would have encountered such as coyotes when quality nesting habitat was available.

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Re: Where there were birds

Post by UpNorthHuntin » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:17 pm

Gertie wrote:
I didn't realize that Ravens were big nest robbers. That would make sense. In the last 5 years there has been an explosion in the Raven numbers in the Lake County area where I hunt. They are everywhere.
I was referring specifically to ravens and sage grouse and, without more information, am not sure I'd make a correlation between ravens and any declines in the types of birds you are hunting there (assuming grouse, quail, and pheasant?). I suspect that ravens and your native species of upland birds have evolved together for some time and those birds (with the exception of the pheasant possibly) may have developed strategies for surviving around ravens. Although, a large increase in the number of ravens could potentially have an impact. Sage grouse on the other hand have historically had little interaction with ravens prior to the past 100 years (ravens came with the juniper trees, roads, and power poles) and they do not have good strategies to avoid predation by this species but, in general, have historically held their own with the presence of species they normally would have encountered such as coyotes when quality nesting habitat was available.
Mostly Ruffed Grouse. There are a lot of racoons and oppossum and I have been seeing more fox as of late, all I'm sure are pretty big in the nest robbing factor. I still have seen really good numbers of Grouse in Oceana County, MI though. They seem to be on the incline there.

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