[Tweeters] pheasants in Skagit County
pdickins at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 11:32:15 PST 2016
Last Tuesday, some our Pilchuck Audubon group saw a pheasant sitting in a
drive along Mann/Moberg Rd. in Skagit.
On Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 7:30 AM, Gary Bletsch <garybletsch at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Dear Tweeters,
> It always surprises me when I see the Ring-necked Pheasant on an eBird
> checklist for Skagit County. There have been many of those lately, mostly
> coming from the Game Range at Wylie Slough. At Wylie, hapless pheasants are
> kept in pens, visible on the right as one drives in.
> This species does not appear to breed in the wild or semi-wild anywhere in
> Skagit County. As far as I can tell, virtually all Ring-necked Pheasants
> here are birds that have been released so that hunters can kill them. The
> remainder are birds that have escaped from pheasant fanciers. All of the
> sightings that I have had of this species in Skagit County, going back to
> 1989, have been birds at or near release sites, or birds near farms where
> they were raised by pheasant fanciers. The latter include birds near Lyman,
> where the late Mr. Ken Byerly raised them until about fifteen years ago,
> and Sedro-Woolley, where gallinaceous birds were raised by a man who lived
> on the east edge of town.
> I have never seen a brood of pheasants in the wild in Skagit County. I
> don't know of anyone who has. If we start seeing them, and they persist for
> a decade or so, we might consider the population viable. Until then, it
> seems reasonable to leave these birds off the eBird checklists.
> The Smith, Mattocks, and Cassidy breeding bird atlas came out in 1997; it
> does show a tiny handful of open circles from Skagit, but those were all
> records of "possible breeding evidence." That is, someone saw a Ring-necked
> Pheasant in the breeding season. That just means a bird eluded the hunters
> for a few extra months. The book also shows a shaded area of appropriate
> habitat, but as far as I know, the birds never established a viable
> population--at least, not one that was capable of surviving hunting season
> after hunting season. Survivors of a hunting season would be supplanted
> with additional releases the following year, making for the appearance of a
> continuing wild population. The book shows that there was breeding in
> coastal Whatcom County, but that area is separated from Skagit by a long
> stretch of dense coastal forest along Chuckanut.
> Perhaps years ago, when Bobwhites were also released here, there might
> have been some self-supporting populations of pheasants in Skagit County,
> but that is all history now. In my opinion, a birder in Skagit might as
> well count chickens, Muscovy Ducks, Toulouse geese, guinea fowl, and
> escaped psitticines and canaries. Those birds are as much a part of our
> wild avifauna as is the pheasant.
> Yours truly,
> Gary Bletsch
> Tweeters mailing list
> Tweeters at u.washington.edu
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