(Atlantic) August 1st through the 15th is the window for the Iowa DNR's roadside pheasant surveys. During that 15 day span 208, 30-mile counts will be submitted.
Private Lands Biologist Matt Dollison runs a route in southwest Iowa and says he's waiting for a particularly dewy morning to conduct his survey.
“That forces the pheasants and other birds to go to the roadsides because they want to get out of the dew and get their feathers dry so that’s when we get a good count on the numbers,” said Dollison. “So, really dewy and it needs to be sunny. Sometimes it can be kind of hard to find those conditions matching up.”
After a very cool and wet spring, the expectation is the count will take a serious hit compared to a year ago.
“Unfortunately the numbers are going to be down again this year due to the cold wet spring we had and also we had above average snowfall again in most of the state,” said Dollison. “So those two factors generally lead to the roadside surveys going down.”
The good news is that last year's increase in population will help to offset this year's expected decrease.
“We did have an uptick in the population last year of around 20 percent. Hopefully we only lose that, not more and end up having our lowest population ever in the State of Iowa. But, I wouldn’t be too surprised if that’s where we ended up,” said Dollison.
According to an Iowa DNR press release the average temperature during the April 1st to May 31st nesting season was only 51 degrees. In that same time period, Iowa received an above average 15.4 inches of precipitation including snowfall in early May.