Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stalking the Wild Aparagus, Whoops, I Mean Ring-necked Pheasant, November 19 and 20

On Tuesday, November 19, I arrived at Maumee Bay State Park before sunrise and proceeded to the area near the hill.  A pair of Great Horned Owls were calling with higher pitched and lower pitched hoots.  I stayed in the area for an hour or more but neither heard nor saw a Ring-necked Pheasant.  Then I drove toward Ottawa NWR and looked and listened along Krause Road but also without success.   I spent some time at the grassland area at the intersection of Krause Road and Route 2 and eventually walked the cut trail through this grassland, but again found no Ring-necked Pheasant.

The reason for looking at  Maumee Bay State Park is that in the 5 years prior to this year I have had Ring-necked Pheasant there every year.  When I moved to Ohio in 1994, Dan Sanders and Greg Miller told me that Ring-necked Pheasant at Maumee Bay State Park are more likely to be wild birds.  They had been there for a long time 20+ years, at  least.  There is no hunting and no state stocking program at Maumee Bay State Park.  At popular hunting areas around the state, such as Killdeer Plains WA, cock-bird Ring-necked Pheasants are released as many as four times throughout the pheasant hunting season starting on November 1 and ending January 5 to facilitate the hunting experience.  A list of the release site is published each year.

I had contacted Sherrie Durris who lives near Maumee Bay SP, birds there regularly and is knowledgeable about birds in the area.  She said that she often sees Ring-necked Pheasant at Maumee Bay SP but not this year.  Sherrie knows of a private person who raised some Ring-necked Pheasants and released them at Maumee Bay State Park  within the past two years.  That is a fly in the ointment of the wild theory.  Whether Ring-necked Pheasants are wild or not is a  matter of degree.  All Ring-necked Pheasants in Ohio and elsewhere in the US originated from released stock.  It depends on how long pheasants have been breeding in the area.

I spent the afternoon walking more trails at Maumee Bay State Park.  I found a Northern Shrike on the trails west of the hill toward the camp ground.  Late in the afternoon, I gave up looking for Ring-necked Pheasant at Maumee Bay State Park and headed south toward home.  I had contacted Doreene Linzell to find out where she and Dan Sanders had found Ring-necked Pheasant for their Ohio Year List.  Doreen told me that in the spring they heard Ring-necked Pheasant at Pickerington Ponds where pheasants have been for about 20+ years.  Guess I'll try there in the morning.

On Wednesday, November 20, I arrived early at Glacier Knoll picnic area at Pickerington Ponds and walked out to the overlook.  I listened for a while and then played the crowing call of Ring-necked Pheasant, which I had also used at Maumee Bay State Park.  After the second go around of calls, a Ring-necked Pheasant gave the cackling male alarm call from the nearby high grass and goldenrod.  I turned off the crowing call and the bird kept giving the male alarm call.  I checked the area where the calls came from and found that it was thick with blackberry brambles.  I wonder if the blackberry brambles help the local Ring-necked Pheasants to survive and escape the local coyotes?  Could be.  This bird was very secretive and did not show itself, perhaps an indication of some wildness.  I was satisfied and left the bird alone.

Ring-necked Pheasant raises the total to 701 + 2.           


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