Monday, April 30, 2007

Pheasant Eggs Hatched by Bobwhite

The Ring-necked Pheasant has long been known to occasionally parasitize the nests of native North American birds, including those of the Northern Bobwhite. Westemeier and Esker (1989) described (.pdf) the first known instance of a bobwhite nest apparently parasitized by pheasant(s) in which the pheasant eggs hatched at the expanse of the bobwhite eggs.

Of 281 bobwhite nests examined from 1970-1988 on a study site in Jasper County, Illinois, only one was known to have been parasitized by pheasants. In that nest, four pheasant eggs hatched from a bobwhite nest containing 15 intact bobwhite eggs and seven pheasant eggs.

Westemeir, Ronald L., and Terry L. Esker. 1989. An unsuccessful clutch of Northern Bobwhites with hatched pheasant eggs. Wilson Bulletin 101: 640-642.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Introduced Birds of Britain

In writing about The History of Britains Birds in the September 2002 issue of Birds of Britain, Steve Portugal briefly discussed the history of bird introductions in that country:
Mans main influence has been in his tendency to introduce foreign species, either for commercial, shooting or ornamental purposes, and it's easy to forget which species are native and those which are not. The first species to be introduced into the wild is thought to be the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) before 1886. From the thirteenth to the eighteenth century they were the property of the crown, assigned to others by license and marked with distinguishing features but not confined. The Canada and Egyptian Geese were introduced around the same time, thought to be 1678. It's not clear whether they were introduced as a food source or for ornamental purposes, but introductions were successful and the species are still present today.

Pheasants and Partridges are a group of birds that have had a wide range of species introduced both for ornamental purposes and sport. The Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) was brought over by the Norman's in the eleventh century and soon dispersed around the country, being introduced to parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the late sixteenth century. By the early nineteenth century they had become the most important game bird. In 1673 Charles the second released a number of Red-legged Partridges (Alectoris rufa) at Windsor, brought over from France with the purpose of increasing the targets for guns. However, whilst the introduction was a success, the bird did not live up to its sporting expectations, as it has a tendency to run for long distances as opposed to taking flight! The Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) introduced in the 1830's and the Lady Amherst Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae) around 1930, were released purely for ornamental purposes. Both species have small but stable populations, their sedentary nature preventing any further spread. Other species introduced include Little Owl (Athene noctua) in 1870, Gadwall (Anas strepera) in 1850 and Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) in 1950.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Aldo Leopold and Ring-necked Pheasants in Illinois

This story by Joe McFarland is from the December 2002 issue of Outdoor Illinois. Excerpts:
In Illinois, the first recognized successful release of pheasants came when a pair was released in the spring of 1890 near Macomb in west-central Illinois. A flock of nearly full-grown young pheasants was observed in the fall, and that success was all the evidence needed to convince sportsmen that pheasants were the game of the future.

In 1904, Illinois became the first state in the nation to open a state-operated game farm. Eggs and chicks were distributed to landowners, with some 36,723 pheasants having been released by the time Leopold began his 1929 study.

McFarland, Joe. 2002 (December). The pheasant century. Outdoor Illinois 10(12): 6-8.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

What Accounts for Introduction Success?

In a letter published in Nature, Blackburn and Duncan (2001) showed that the likelihood of bird introductions being successful is determined by abiotic environmental factors at the release site. An excerpt from the abstract:
using a global data set of historical bird introductions, [the authors] . . . show that the pattern of avian introduction success is not consistent with the biotic resistance hypothesis [i.e., species-rich mainland and tropical locations are harder to invade]. Instead, success depends on the suitability of the abiotic environment for the exotic species at the introduction site.
Blackburn, Tim M., and Richard P. Duncan. 2001 (November 8). Determinants of establishment success in introduced birds. Nature 414: 195-197.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ring-necked Pheasants Arrive in North America

The State Handbook and Guide provides a concise history of the origin of the Ring-necked Pheasant in North America:
It wasn’t until 1733 that the pheasant appeared in North America, when several pairs of the black-necked strain were introduced in New York. Other pheasant varieties were released in New Hampshire and New Jersey later in the 18th century. Not until 1881, when Judge O. N. Denny released some 100 pairs of Chinese ring-necks in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, did the pheasant really gain a foothold in the United States. Since then, pheasants have been propagated and released by government agencies, clubs and individuals, and for all practical purposes are established everywhere on the continent that suitable habitat exists.

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The China or Denny Pheasant in Oregon

A brief review by J. A. Allen of a booklet by William T. Shaw on a history of the introduction of Ring-necked Pheasant in Oregon.

Releases of birds into the Willamette Valley of Oregon in the early 1880s represented the first successful introductions of the Ring-necked Pheasant in North America.


Allen, J. A. 1908. [Review of] Shaw’s ‘The China or Denny pheasant in Oregon.’ Auk 25: 241-242.

Shaw, William T. 1908. The China or Denny pheasant in Oregon, with notes on the native grouse of the Pacific Northwest. J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia. 24 pp.

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Ring-necked Pheasant Restoration in Minnesota

A long-range pheasant plan (.pdf) approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 2005 “describes strategies to achieve a pheasant harvest of 450,000 roosters [25 percent above the 1987-2000 average] primarily by capitalizing on a suite of well-funded farm programs available through 2008.”

Pheasant harvests since 1964 have averaged 65-75 percent lower than during the peak years of 1931-1964 (see below). The reason for the decline and failed recovery is attributed to severe winter weather in the mid-1960s followed by dramatic changes in land use that reduced the availability of food and cover for pheasants.

Selected excerpts from the plan:
Pheasants were first stocked in Minnesota in 1905, but none of the released birds survived. A self-sustaining population was established in 1916-18 after 4,000 adults were released and another 6,000 eggs were given to farmers and hunters interested in rearing pheasants.

By 1922, pheasants had been released in 78 of the state’s 87 counties, and the population was growing rapidly. The altered prairie landscape that was too intensively farmed for sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens proved ideal for ring-necked pheasants.

In 1931, less than 15 years after releases of a few thousand birds, the fall pheasant population in Minnesota yielded a harvest of 1 million roosters (estimated population of over 4 million pheasants), and harvest averaged that level through 1964.
Figure 1 (p. 3) shows trends in pheasant harvest, 1924-2000, and Figure 2 (p. 12) shows the distribution of pheasants in Minnesota as of 2003.

Citation: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2005 (March 8). Long range plan for the Ring-necked Pheasant in Minnesota. 24 pp.

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An Original Resident?

On a Web site about watchable wildlife developed by Travel Montana, clicking the “What to Watch” tab takes us to a page that invites us to “Meet Montana’s Original Residents.” That page links to a brief account of the Ring-necked Pheasant, a nonnative introduced resident of Montana. The account grudgingly notes that:
Ring-necked pheasants are not native Montanans. They were imported from China to the United States in the mid-1800’s, but that hasn’t stopped them from making themselves right at home in Montana.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Trumpeter Swans Released in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

As reported in this release from the National Park Service (excerpt):
In partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has announced that eight young trumpeter swans were released in the park during the summer of 2006. The eight were released together into one of the wetland areas within the Lakeshore and it is hoped that they will finish maturing and imprint on the area before migrating south for the winter. . . .

The swans were reared by the Kellog Bird Sanctuary and were picked up and delivered by a biologist with the Little River Band.
The release further notes that, by 2005, 728 Trumpeters Swans had been re-introduced into the State of Michigan.

As part of this plan to "re-establish" Trumpeter Swans to a portion of their supposed historic native range, I wonder if there are any plans to remove the nonnative and invasive Mute Swans (.pdf) that are common year-round residents and breeders on the Lakeshore.

Stanley Temple on Exotic Birds

Temple* (1992) proclaimed exotic birds in the Western Hemisphere to be “a growing problem with no easy solution.” Here are a few highlights from Temple’s paper (.pdf):
  • An estimated 97 species (75 imported from other countries, and 22 species translocated within the U.S.) have established self-sustaining populations in the U.S. outside their native ranges.
  • Imported and established exotics originate from Eurasia (47 percent), the neotropics (26 percent), Africa (22 percent), and other regions (4 percent).

  • Hawaii and Florida have the highest proportion of their breeding avifaunas composed of exotics (18 and 9 percent, respectively).

  • At least 61 percent of exotic species were introduced purposely and legally through the cooperative Federal-State Foreign Game Importations Program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1948-1970..

  • Some 38 percent of exotics are pet birds that accidentally escaped from captivity after having been imported or translocated legally.

  • About 56 percent of the exotic birds of the U.S. are judged to be primarily harmful, 5 percent to be primarily beneficial, and 39 percent to have mixed impacts that may be both harmful and beneficial depending on the situation.

  • Only a handful of exotic bird species have been well-studied in the U.S.

  • The American public is woefully naive about exotic birds, with many of them not even recognized as nonnative by most Americans, and a few (i.e. Mute Swan, Monk Parakeet) even having advocacy groups.

  • Unless the public can be convinced that exotics usually are undesirable, motivation to deal with exotic birds will remain low.
  • Citation: Temple, Stanley A. 1992. Exotic birds: a growing problem with no easy solution. Auk 109: 395-397.

    *Stanley A. Temple is Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, and Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    The Trumpeter Swan in Michigan

    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources briefly described the historical status of the Trumpeter Swan in this undated document (excerpt):
    Historically, trumpeter swans were most likely abundant throughout the Great Lakes region, even in the southern Michigan marshlands. On his travels along the Detroit River in 1701, Cadillac compared the abundance of swans to lilies among the rushes.
    That broad-brush characterization seems at odds with this statement by Woods (1951) regarding its known occurrence in Michigan:
    One authentic specimen: a male (U.S.N.M.), taken November 20, 1875, by W. H. Collins, at the St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County (Stejneger, 1882:218). [from digitized text provided here]
    Regardless of what their true historic status in Michigan might have been, the DNR embarked on an ambitious program to “reintroduce” trumpeter swans to the State, as described here (excerpt):
    During the 1980s, Michigan began a swan reintroduction program as part of the North American Restoration Plan. The Michigan commitment to the plan was establishment of three self-sustaining populations in Michigan of at least 200 swans by the year 2000. Early attempts at cross-fostering trumpeter eggs with mute swans provided low success rates and were abandoned.

    The second phase involved rearing of cygnets for two years prior to releasing them into prime wetland habitat. Eggs were collected from zoos and incubated to hatching. The rearing approach proved much more successful. Additionally, in 1989, biologists from the DNR and Kellogg Bird Sanctuary traveled to Alaska to collect eggs from wild populations to include in the rearing program.

    To raise awareness of the program, the Natural Heritage Program highlighted the trumpeter swan on the Living Resources patch, T-shirt, and print, produced in 1990-1991. After nearly 15 years, the Program can be claimed a complete success: the 2000 count of trumpeter swans in Michigan exceeded 400 individuals.

    The 2000 population census identified three distinct population areas. The first included southwest Michigan with over 100 birds. The second population was found in the four-county region of Oscoda, Alcona, Ogemaw, and Iosco. At least 50 swans were found in this area. The most likely place to see trumpeter swans in Michigan is Schoolcraft County in the central Upper Peninsula. Seney National Wildlife Refuge had a total of 191 birds with 18 pairs nesting on the area. Seney, as well as a couple other sites in Schoolcraft County, harbors over 50 percent of the trumpeters known in Michigan.
    This is just one of many classic examples in which it sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish the reintroduction and restoration of a population from the introduction of a species into an area where it may never have nested historically.


    Michigan Department of Natural Resources. No date. Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator). Available here.

    Wood, Norman A. 1951. The birds of Michigan. University of Michigan Miscellaneous Publication 75.

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    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Cold Turkey

    Apparently spurred by the demands of turkey hunters for continued northward expansion of Wild Turkey populations by means of intentional introductions, the Northern Wild Turkey Workshop was held in Bloomington, Minnesota, January 16-18, 2003, under sponsorship of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the National Wild Turkey Foundation, and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation.

    The published proceedings (.pdf) consists of 36 papers, mostly 1- or 2-page expanded abstracts, organized into the following 6 sections:
  • Introduction (2 papers)
  • Transplanting Wild Turkeys North of Their Ancestral Range (9)
  • Research on Wild Turkeys in Northern Latitudes (8)
  • Northern Wild Turkey Populations, Problems, and Hunting Seasons (6)
  • State and Provincial Agency Reports (7)
  • Appendix (3)
  • Citation: Kimmel, Richard O., Wendy J. Krueger, and Tonya K. Klinkner (compilers). 2003. Northern Wild Turkey Workshop. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Farmland Wildlife Research Group, Madelia, Minnesota. 42 pp.


    Distribution and Status of the White-tailed Ptarmigan

    Hoffman (2006) reviews (.pdf) the distribution and status of the White-tailed Ptarmigan, including these comments on introductions outside its native range:
    In addition to the possibility of natural expansion, the species also has been successfully introduced into suitable habitats outside its native range, including the Sierra Nevada in California (Clarke 1989, Clarke and Johnson 1990, Frederick and Gutierrez 1992), Uinta Mountains in Utah (Braun et al. 1978), and the Pecos Wilderness Area in New Mexico (Hubbard and Eley 1985). White-tailed Ptarmigan also were released into the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, but the translocation was unsuccessful (Evanich 1980, Braun 1993).
    Hoffman’s Figure 2 (on p. 13) shows the known distribution of the White-tailed Ptarmigan, along with locations of successfully introduced populations in California, New Mexico, and Utah.

    Braun, C. E. 1993. White-tailed ptarmigan habitat investigations in northeast Oregon. Oregon Birds 19: 72-73.

    Braun, C. E., D. H. Nish, and K. M. Giesen. 1978. Release and establishment of white-tailed ptarmigan in Utah. Southwestern Naturalist 23: 661-668.

    Clarke, J. A. 1989. White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus) in the Sierra Nevada: a comparative study of an introduced population. Dissertation. Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.

    Clarke, J. A., and R. E. Johnson. 1990. Biogeography of white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus): implications from an introduced population in the Sierra Nevada. Journal of Biogeography 17: 649-656.

    Evanich, J. 1980. Status of White-tailed ptarmigan in Oregon. Oregon Birds 6: 98-100.

    Frederick, G. P., and R. J. Gutierrez. 1992. Habitat use and population characteristics of the white-tailed ptarmigan in the Sierra Nevada, California. Condor 94: 889-902.

    Hoffman, R. W. 2006 (April 4). White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus): a technical assessment. Prepared for USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project. 71 pp.

    Hubbard, J. P., and J. W. Eley. 1985. White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus). Handbook of species endangered in New Mexico, Birds/PS/LA/LE:1-2. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Wild Turkey Restoration in Nebraska

    Native populations of the Wild Turkey were extirpated from Nebraska by about 1915, and an initial 3-year effort to stock turkeys along the Missouri River was discontinued in 1931 “owing to the fact that it is extremely difficult to obtain wild birds for stocking.”

    This document
    from the Nebraska Department of Wildlife and Parks’ Wildlife Species Guide describes the modern history of Wild Turkey restoration in Nebraska, which began in 1959 with the release of Merriam’s turkeys trapped in South Dakota and Wyoming.

    The following maps illustrate the distribution of release sites of various subspecies and the present-day range of the Wild Turkey in Nebraska:

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    Gamebird Stockings in Nebraska

    The following excerpts are taken from 100 Years of Game and Parks History, a timeline of significant events and accomplishments in the history of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (formerly the Nebraska Game and Fish Commission), 1901-2000:

  • 1931 – The Commission discontinued its three-year wild turkey stocking program along the Missouri River, “owing to the fact that it is extremely difficult to obtain wild birds for stocking.” A total of 253 turkey pairs had been stocked.

  • 1937 – The Commission established a game farm near Madison to raise pheasants, chukar partridge and bobwhite quail for stocking. A total of 2,700 birds were raised the first year. Two years later, the Commission established a second, smaller, game farm at Niobrara State Park.

  • 1958 – During the winter of 1958-59, 28 Merriam’s wild turkeys obtained from Wyoming and South Dakota were released in the Cottonwood Creek drainage of Sioux County.

  • 1961 – Rio Grande turkeys were stocked in central and southern Nebraska.

  • 1963 – Chukar partridge were released in the Panhandle.

  • 1970 – The last release of chukar partridge was made. Over six years, 27,456 chukars were released in an attempt to establish it as a game bird. Subsequently, the project was deemed unsuccessful.
  • In summary, there was limited stocking of Northern Bobwhite and Ring-necked Pheasants beginning in the 1930s, successful stocking of Wild Turkeys of nonnative origin beginning in 1959, and unsuccessful stocking of nonnative Chukar in the 1970s.

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    Quail and Pheasant Stocking in New Jersey

    This article appeared on the Mid-Atlantic Game & Fish website some time prior to the 2003-2004 hunting season. An excerpt:
    According to statistics from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), the state annually releases 50,000-plus [ring-necked] pheasants, which are raised at the state’s Rockport Pheasant Farms. In addition, 11,000-plus [northern] bobwhite quail are stocked on two wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the southern portion of the state, namely Greenwood Forest and Peaslee WMAs. These stocking figures have remained pretty consistent for the last decade or more, with the exception of some lean years in the late ‘90s, when the DFW faced a budget crisis.

    Quail stocking in the Garden State has also changed in recent years. Bobwhite quail were originally raised at the Forked River Game Farm. The game farm was gradually phased out and produced its last birds in 1996. The DFW now purchases quail for stocking from private in-state game farms. Buying the birds from private game farms saves the state money while providing wingshooters with a healthier stock of birds as well.
    The schedule (.pdf) of quail and pheasant releases for 2006-2007 indicates a marked reduction in the number of birds being released (i.e., 5,200 Northern bobwhite and 2,000 Ring-necked Pheasants). The reason for the reductions in the number of birds being stocked is not immediately available. It would be interesting to know percentage of these birds are bagged by hunters.

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    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    “Australasian bird invasions: accidents of history?"

    An excerpt from the Abstract:
    Of the >242 species introduced by Europeans to Australasia during the 18th-20th centuries, at least 32% established long-term viable populations. A review of the literature reveals the most robust predictors of introduction success to be total number of individuals liberated, and the number of separate attempts at introduction. Using generalized linear modeling on a combined regional dataset, I confirm this result, and demonstrate that together these two characteristics of historical introductions correctly explains the observed outcome in 89.3% of cases in Australia.
    The entire paper can be downloaded here (.pdf).

    Citation: Brook, Barry W. 2004. Australasian bird invasions: accidents of history? Ornithological Science 3: 33-42.

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    Friday, April 13, 2007

    Invasive Species in Australia

    Birds Australia has produced an annual State of Australia’s Birds (SOAB) report since 2003. The 2006 SOAB report is devoted to invasive species, and can be downloaded as a .pdf (2.6 MB) document by clicking on the "Birds Australia" link above, then clicking on "study birds" and "SOAB". As with previous SOAB reports, the coverage of the topic at hand is excellent. It covers not only invasive birds, but also other invasive plants and animals and their impacts on native birds. The report lists 12 species of nonnative introduced birds "that have established widespread populations in mainland Australia" and notes that another 8 "have established localised populations on the mainland or on Islands." I here list the chapter headings along with topics related to birds:

    A. Invasive Species as Habitat Modifiers:
  • Pisonia fruits and Gould's Petrel: petrels are entangled in the sticky fruits of the introduced tree
  • An African grass introduced to Lord Howe Island smothers Flesh-footed Shearwater breeding habitat
  • B. Invasive Species as Predators:
  • Fox predation on ground birds
  • Rat predation on seabirds
  • Cats and birds
  • C. Invasive Species as Competitors:
  • Honeybees and birds
  • Bumblebees and birds
  • Introduced Galahs and Long-billed Corellas compete for nest cavities with local endangered species
  • D. Preventing Invasion:
  • Gardeners, weeds, and birds
  • Risk assessments for exotic birds
  • Feral bird incursions in Western Australia
  • E. Assessing the Threat from Established Invasives:
  • Cockatoo management in Victoria
  • Common Mynas and Noisy Miners and the decline of small birds in cities
  • Currawongs: cause or symptom?
  • F. Control of Invasives:
  • Requirements for successful eradication
  • Dealing with indigenous despots
  • Threatened birds and alien species: a NSW perspective
  • Local eradication of House Sparrows
  • G. Protecting Threatened Birds from Invasives:
  • What is a bird worth?
  • Norfolk Islands: invasives and extinctions
  • Integrated management: cats, rabbits, and petrels
  • Predator management for Hooded Plovers
  • H. Learning to Live with Invasives:
  • Invaders in the cities: terrorists or companions?
  • Predatory birds and cane toads
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    Impacts of Introduced Game Birds in Hawaii

    In the high-elevation shrublands of Haleakala National Park on Mauai, Cole et al. (1995) found that Ring-necked Pheasants and Chukars “occupy, at least partially, an ecological niche once held by now-extinct or rare birds, and they appear not to be significant competitors with the endangered Nene. The role of these alien birds in facilitating seed dispersal and germination of native plant species is beneficial in restoring degraded ecosystems." The abstract is available here.

    Citation: Cole, F. Russell, Lloyd L. Loope, Arthur C. Medeiros, Jane A. Raikes, and Cynthis S. Wood. 1995. Conservation implications of introduced game birds in high-elevation Hawaiian shrubland. Conservation Biology 9: 306-313.

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    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Ring-necked Pheasants in South Dakota

    An excerpt from Mary Anderson's account of the Ring-necked Pheasant in The Natural Source: an educator’s guide to South Dakota’s natural resources, edited by Dr. Erika Tallman, Director of Environmental Education at Northern State University:
    The first successful introduction of the pheasant into the United States occurred in Oregon in 1892. Many attempts were made to introduced the bird into South Dakota, but the first successful introduction occurred in Spink County in 1908. A. E. Cooper and E. L. Ebbert, adjoining farmers south of Doland, released the pheasants into the wild. In 1911, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks released approximately 250 pairs in Spink and Beadle counties. Since that time, the South Dakota pheasant population has fluctuated from a high of 16 million birds to a low of 1.4 million birds. In 1993, the pheasant population was estimated to be around 5 million birds.
    South Dakota Pheasant Trivia:

    (1) South Dakota honored its most famous avian immigrant in 1943 by proclaiming the Ring-necked Pheasant the State Bird.

    (2) Redfield, South Dakota, proclaims itself the "pheasant capital of the world."

    (3) Ring-necked Pheasants outnumber humans in South Dakota by nearly 7 to 1.

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    Invasive Birds

    The Conservation Science Institute, a “think thank and research organization founded in 1994 to resolve emerging ecological and environmental dilemmas,” has compiled a representative global list of 100 invasive species “to collectively illustrate the range of impacts caused by biological invasion.” Their list includes three bird species. Excerpts follow:
    3. Acridotheres tristis (bird) Mynas are native to India, but have been introduced all over the world, mainly for their being able to reduce the insect population in agricultural areas. However, they reduce biodiversity by competing for nesting hollows, destroying chicks and eggs and evicting small mammals. Common Names: common myna, Hirtenmaina, Indian myna, Indian mynah, mynah

    78. Pycnonotus cafer (bird) is a noisy, gregarious bird, distinguished by a conspicuous crimson patch below the root of the tail. It is considered to be invasive because it is an agricultural pest and destroy fruits, flowers, beans, tomatoes and peas, and may also help to spread the seed of other invasive species. It occurs naturally, from Pakistan to southwest China and has been introduced to many Pacific Islands, a number of which class this bird as an invasive. The bulbul (native to parts of Asia) was introduced to some of the Pacific Islands, where it has caused serious problems by eating fruit and vegetable crops, as well as nectar, seeds and buds. The bulbul is aggressive and chases off other bird species. Common Names: red-vented bulbul, Rußbülbül

    89. Sturnus vulgaris (bird) Native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, the European starling has been introduced globally save in neotropic regions. The starling prefers lowland habitats and is an aggressive omnivore. European starlings cost hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural damage each year and contribute to the decline of local native bird species through competition for resources and nesting space. Common Names: blackbird, common starling, English starling, Estornino pinto, Etourneau sansonnet, étourneau sansonnet, Europäischer Star, European starling


    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Ring-necked Pheasant Leaflet

    The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service published this habitat management leaflet in 1999. Excerpt:
    The ring-necked pheasant is a ground-dwelling, gallinaceous (chicken-like) bird of Asia first introduced into the United States prior to the 1800s. By the 1880s, wild ring-necked pheasants had become established in sustainable breeding populations within the United States and have remained one of the most popular and sought after upland game birds in central and northern regions of the country. . . . Also characteristic of the ring-neck is its ability to share similar niches with many native grassland and farmland community wildlife species. One exception has been its interaction with native prairie chickens – pheasant males can disrupt prairie chicken leks and hens may lay eggs in prairie chicken nests. Consequently, efforts to repatriate prairie chickens in some areas may require prior removal of pheasants.
    This leaflet contains much detailed information related to habitat management for this species.

    Citation: Natural Resources Conservation Service. 1999 (October). Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Leaflet 10, 12 pp.

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    Captive-Reared Bobwhites Are Inferior to Native Birds

    In a paper published in the Proceedings of the Fifth National Quail Symposium (see Citation below, three biologists from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department concluded that “captive-reared Northern Bobwhite are inferior to native birds in southern Texas.” The abstract:
    Introductions of captive-reared northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) to bolster native populations have been largely unsuccessful. We compared the survival and flight characteristics of game-farm (n = 46), first-generation (F1) (n = 48), wild translocated (n = 45), and wild native (n = 50) northern bobwhites. In November 1993, all birds were radio-collared, leg banded, sexed, and aged. Birds were then released on a study area in Brooks County, Texas, in groups of about 15, 1 bird at a time. Upon release, the direction of departure, speed, and time required to reach cover were recorded. The mean flight speed and distance flown for wild bobwhites was significantly greater (P < 0.01) than captive-reared bobwhites. Wild native, wild translocated, and F1 groups were non-randomly distributed in direction of departure at release site (P < 0.01). Survival of wild groups was significantly higher than captive-raised groups (P < 0.05). The major cause of mortality in all groups was mammalian depredation. Fifteen F1 quail and 1 game-farm quail integrated into wild coveys. Our results re-confirm the inability of game-farm and first-generation northern bobwhites to survive in the wild, and we offer flight speed as one potential causal factor [emphasis added].
    The entire paper can be downloaded here (.pdf).

    Citation: Perez, Robert M., Don E. Wilson, and Karen D. Gruen. 2002. Captive-reared and wild Northern Bobwhite in southern Texas. Pp. 81-85 in S. J. DeMaso, W. P. Kuvleksy Jr., F. Hernandez, and M. E. Berger (eds.), Quail V: Proceedings of the Fifth National Quail Symposium. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, Texas.

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    "The Myths that Surround the Monk Parakeet"

    According to this 2005 lesson plan designed for the Connecticut Now and Then Teachers Institute by Kristen A. Daigle of the Yale Peabody Museum’s Education Department, third-grade students in the State of Connecticut “will be learning about the infamous Monk Parakeet and the myths that surround it.” Excerpts:
    A myth is a very old, traditional story that is used to teach a lesson or help explain the natural world. Myths can also refer to stories that aren’t true, or can’t really be proven. For instance, many people think Bigfoot is a myth but no one really knows for sure.

    One myth that many people have heard is the myth of the Monk Parakeet in Connecticut. It is generally believed that in the late 1960s a container of parakeets was dropped and broke open at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Several birds escaped and established wild populations on Long Island. Since then, the birds have spread into Connecticut, with populations reported from Branford to Norwalk. Escaped pets have probably joined the original birds.

    People have been telling this story for years. Many wondered how the Monk Parakeet found its way into our backyards, and someone came up with a story to explain it.

    The truth be told, the Monk Parakeet, or Quaker Parakeet, ordinarily resides in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the late 1960s large numbers of these birds were sent to this country by the pet industry. No one really knows how these birds made their way into the wild, but we do know that Monk Parakeets have been sighted all over the United States.
    I always thought the “story” about birds escaping from a dropped shipping container at JFK airport in the late 1960s was factual, not a myth.

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    Alien Invaders

    Mike Wolf, an artist affiliated with the Network of Cumulative Art, was commissioned by the POST Chicago initiative in 2003 to produce this poster illustrating the non-native birds of Humboldt Park, a Chicago neighborhood and park. In actuality, the three birds illustrated—Rock Pigeon, European Starling, and House Sparrow—are representative avian residents of many neighborhoods and parks across the country.

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    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Northern Bobwhite in Ohio

    As reported here:
    State wildlife experts continue to attempt to bring back native bobwhite quail. This week they released 109 wild birds captured in Kansas at the Highlandtown Wildlife Area in Columbia County.

    Quail prospered in Ohio, but only after early settlers cleared forests to create quail-friendly farm fields and fence rows. Severe winter weather in the late 1970s wiped out quail and, like the ring-necked pheasant, the small birds are having a difficult time in the Buckeye State.

    Ohio raised wild quail and released them, which failed. Since then, wild quail have been trapped in other states and quickly released here. Highlandtown Wildlife area has good quail habitat, with open meadows, wood lots and fence rows. Quail hunting will continue to be allowed only in select counties in southwestern Ohio.

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    Ring-necked Pheasants in Wisconsin

    In the period 2001-2007, “over 400,000 pheasants [were] stocked on public hunting grounds” by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, as reported here.

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