Upland Bird Forecast - Clearwater Region

Clearwater Region

2022 Conditions – Twelve 20-mile upland game brood routes are surveyed annually from mid to late-August across the Clearwater Region to index game bird population trends and productivity. This data provides an index of relative abundance and is used to monitor annual changes and long-term trends in regional populations. Due to low detection rates, weather variability and crop harvest timing, the data is imprecise and should be interpreted cautiously.

The 2021-22 winter was relatively mild to average. Spring brought above-average precipitation and low temperatures. Due to relatively cool temperatures and heavy precipitation during the spring nesting and early brood-rearing period, ample ground cover and insects, which are important for chick survival, may have resulted from these conditions. Overall, population trends were down from 2021 with the exception of doves, which showed relatively high counts. This pattern was also observed for brood route trends as compared to the 10-year average.

Pheasant

  • Trend from last year (2021): Down
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): Down
  • The 10 pheasants observed in 2022 represent an 80 percent decrease from the 48 birds tallied in 2021, and is significantly lower than the previous 10-year average of 44 birds. There were 0.04 pheasants observed per mile surveyed. Two broods were encountered during surveys in 2022. An average of 6 broods were tallied on these routes over the past 10 years. The average size of broods observed this year was 3.5 chicks per brood. Pheasant stocking will continue at Craig Mountain WMA, and he Genesee, Palouse, and Peterson Loop release areas.

Chukar

  • Trend from last year (2021): Unknown
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): Unknown
  • Chukar helicopter trend surveys are no longer conducted by Fish and Game. The Clearwater Region has experimented with some ground-based survey methodologies in past years, but to date has not identified a reliable trend index. Chukar productivity and populations appear to be trending mostly upwards in recent years.  Observations and reports from field staff and the public this year (although tentative due to relatively small sample sizes), suggest many chukars, including numerous large broods. Populations have been relatively high the past few years, so even if production was subpar this year, there should be a reasonable number of birds from last year. A wildfire burned a large portion of Unit 11 in 2021, which may have had a negative effect on brood success; however, it is difficult to quantify the fire’s impact on chukar populations at this time.

Gray Partridge (Hun)

  • Trend from last year (2021): Down
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): Down
  • The number of gray partridge (25) observed this year was down 34 percent from last year’s total, and 70 percent lower than the 10-year average of 82. The number of gray partridge counted this year is the lowest in the past 10 years. The 25 partridge tallied on these routes in 2022 translates to 0.1 birds per mile surveyed.

California Quail

  • Trend from last year (2021): Down
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): Down
  • A total of 122 birds were counted in 2022, which represents a 28 percent decrease from the 169 tallied in 2021. This year’s count is 20 percent lower than the previous 10-year average of 152. There were 0.51 birds observed per mile surveyed.

Mourning Dove

  • Trend from last year (2021): Up
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): Up
  • A total of 422 mourning doves were counted on regional routes in 2022 (1.75 doves observed per mile surveyed). This total represents a 63 percent increase from the 259 tallied in 2021. The 10-year average is 416 doves.

Forest Grouse (Dusky, Ruffed, Spruce)

  • Trend from last year (2021): No Data
  • 10-Year Trend (2013-2022): No Data
  • Forest grouse are not surveyed in the Clearwater Region. The few incidental observations and reports from field staff and sportsmen indicate forest grouse production was likely similar to that in 2021.