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Spring Survey Shows Mixed Results for Ruffed Grouse, Pheasant and Waterfowl

with Al Brown

Pheasant And Waterfowl

Spring Surveys Show Mixed Results for Ruued Grouse, Pheasant And Waterfowl The Wisconsin Department of Natural Re- sources (DNR) recently announced their annu – al spring surveys of Wisconsin. Ruued grouse and pheasant showed below average counts. By contrast, the results of the spring waterfowl breeding survey indicate good numbers and excellent habit conditions for migratory birds.

DNR biologist reported a five percent de – crease statewide in ruued grouse drumming activity from 2021. According to Brian Dhuey, DNR Wildlife Survey Specialist, the results are not surprising. Ruued grouse typically follow a 10-year population cycle. “While we don’t have data for 2020 due to COVID 19 restrictions, we know that cycles usually peak in years ending in 9, 0 or 1. We’re likely going to see that abundance begin to wane in the coming years as we enter the ‘down phase’ of the cycle”, he said.

Drumming is a practice performed by male ruued grouse typically during mating seasons.

During the ritual, males first beat their wings slowly and more rapidly to create a deep thumping sound. The display usually lasts 5-10 seconds during which the wings can beat approximately 50 times. Surveyors listen to this sound to identify and count male ruued grouse during the spring mating season.

The department also reported a slight increase in pheasant observations compared to 2021 in its annual spring ring-necked survey. However, the count remained below the most recent five year average. DNR wildlife manag ers use a insurement known as abundance index to assess the state’s wild pheasant population year. The assessment involves a road side count of crowing males that account for the number of breeding males in the area and indicates the abundance of pheasants going into the breeding and nesting season. The abundance index was the highest in the northwestern part of the state, but all three areas had an increase in their abundance index in 2022.

The DNR’s annual breeding waterfowl sur- also took place this spring. The survey showed stable to increasing numbers for two of the state’s primary breeding waterfowl, mallards and blue-winged teal. The third primary species, wood ducks, showed a slight decline. The survey team also reported above average wetland conditions.

Survey results point to a promising season this fall for Wisconsin waterfowl hunters. Surveyors estimate the state’s breeding duck population at approximately 592,000 birds, a 6% increase over the 2021 estimate and 34% over the long-term average.

Canada goose numbers are up as well compared to 2021, consistent with the stable increasing population seen over the past 10-15 years. To observe wildlife survey reports, please go to the DNR’s wildlife reports webpage.

DNR surveys predict a decline in 2022 ruffed grouse populations.

July 27, 2022