August is a good month for observing pheasant broods along roads. It is not uncommon to see one hen with two broods.
Can both be her own? Physically impossible! The hen has probably adopted one brood. In most cases the ages of the two broods differ by only a couple weeks. A couple weeks are not enough time to produce another family. After the first nest hatches, it would take a minimum of 7 weeks before she could hatch another nest. And who is taking care of the first chicks while the hen is setting on the second nest?
Also remember that after the first nest the hen is at her worst physical condition of the year. She's too pooped to produce a second batch of chicks. She will adopt another brood though if the other hen is missing.
Where do hens take their chicks during the summer months? First, she will find cover with adequate insects.
In many states, she takes them into weeds, grass, clover, and small grain stubble during July and August. Many hens are also found near tree and shrub cover. The hen finds more insects outside of tree cover, but woody cover is considered valuable to the chicks as shade in hot weather.
Studies have noted that the summer shade benefit offered by woody cover might be more important than its winter cover benefit. The hotter the weather, the more pheasants will use woody cover. Additionally, it has been found that small trees and shrubs were utilized more frequently than tall trees or hedgerows.
This month also marks the beginning of the Iowa DNR's annual August Roadside Survey. From August 1-15, state wildlife biologists and conservation officers drive over 200, thirty-mile routes across our state in attempts to survey upland game populations.
During these early-morning drives, DNR officials count ring-necked pheasants, bobwhite quail, gray partridge, cottontail rabbits and white-tailed jackrabbits. Cool mornings, sun-shining, heavy dew and no winds provide the optimal conditions to see these upland species on rural gravel roads in their attempt to dry off and warm up. By driving the same route at the same time of the year, the DNR is able to compare these surveys with previous years, and predict the pheasant population for hunters afield later that fall. Results are compiled at the end of each August and released in September.
To learn more about Pheasants Forever in your area, visit: HYPERLINK "http://www.iowapheasantsforever.org" www.iowapheasantsforever.org or contact Chapter President Tim Haupert.