Nesting of ring-necked pheasants in the Texas Panhandle



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Texas Tech University


Nesting studies of the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus oolchicus) were conducted during 1979 and 1980 on 3 study areas in Castro County, Texas. Playa basins had higher density of nests (2.21/ha) and greater production of chicks (8.37/ha) than wheat, alfalfa, roadside/strip, oat, and rye habitats. Nest initiation began on approximately 23 March and continued through 13 July. Peak nesting activity occurred from 29 April to 4 May and 23 to 28 May during both years. Similarity of nesting phenology between the Texas Panhandle and northem pheasant range suggested consistent nesting behavior over a wide latitudinal distribution. Young were produced in 24% of the nests (N = 221). Harvesting, predators, abandonment, and flooding contributed to 32, 21, 15, and 5% of the nest losses, respectively. Larger clutch sizes in playas, alfalfa, and oats were attributed to early nest initiation in these habitats relative to rye and wheat fields. The respective mean weight, volume, and eggshell thickness for both years was 26.3 ± 0.18 g, 26.3 ± 0.13 ml, and 0.256 ± 0.001 mm. There was an unexplained difference in eggshell thickness between habitat types with alfalfa, wheat, and roadside/strips having a greater (P < 0.05) thickness than playas, oats, and rye fields. The mean fertility rate was 93.0 ± 0.0"% for eggs in successful nests. Playa basins and roadside/strip cover were the most promising habitat types available for management of nesting cover in the Texas Panhandle.



Birds -- Texas, Birds -- Nests, Ring-necked pheasant, Birds -- Eggs