Yesterday a pheasant rooster turned up at our bird feeder and gorged himself for more than an hour. Our house is about 400 yards from the nearest cover any self-respecting pheasant would consider. Surely a sign the Upland Apocalypse is upon us. I’d hoped we’d see a turn toward some burn-off so I might get out one more time before the end of January, but with the continued frigidity and snowfall it looks like the fat lady has indeed sung. I’m looking for a fork to stick in myself. We’re done.
I worry the birds are, too. Done for, more like. I keep hearing about herds of chukar on the road and gangs of road-sluicing morons taking advantage of the desperate birds. If there’s any hope for some leftover breeders, the road killers are doing their part to prevent that from happening. It’s a shame we’re looking at yet another upcoming season of super-low bird numbers.
And Fish and Game, in their brilliance, have rejected the many requests by sportsmen to end the season. I’m not a biologist and don’t know a lot about over-winter survival for chukar, but it only stands to reason that adding more mortal pressure to an already maximal environmental stress on a species isn’t a recipe for success. I don’t get it. I’m sure one of my smarter readers can clue me in on this.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope we see some good numbers of birds in the fall. If we do, I’ll be even more impressed with these feathered phenoms. But I’m preparing for another disappointing year. In the meantime, I have lots of amazing memories of this great — but shortened — season. I hope you do, too.