2016 Upland Game Bird Population Trends – Magic Valley Region

2016 Conditions – Warm and dry weather during spring and summer were generally favorable for upland bird nesting and brood rearing.   Department personnel are reporting average numbers of broods for all upland game species.  Generally, bird numbers are similar this year compared to the 2015 season and slightly higher than average.  Hunters are encouraged to contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359 if they would like to learn more about upland game bird status and trends.

Upland Game Bird Trend from last year
(2015)
10-Year Trend
(2006-2015)
Comments
Pheasant Stable Down

Pheasant numbers have remained relatively low in the Magic Valley since the mid-1980s because of changes in farming practices and the resultant loss of habitat. Pheasant stocking will continue at Niagara Springs WMA. Hunters might also want to obtain a Wildlife Tracts map from the Magic Valley Regional office that shows the locations of 284 tracts of public land with nearly 33,000 acres that provide upland bird hunting opportunity.

Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse

Up Stable

Spring lek surveys and anecdotal information suggest sharp-tailed grouse numbers may have experienced a small decrease during the past decade. However, populations remain strong and currently provide liberal hunting opportunities (Oct. 1–31; 2-bird daily bag). The best hunting is typically in or near fields enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Fields with a forb component (e.g., alfalfa) are typically the best. If conditions are dry, hunters should expect early movement of grouse up into mountain shrub communities (serviceberry) and to areas where green forbs can still be found. Land enrolled in the Access Yes! program in Cassia, Power, and Oneida counties provide ample access to hunting areas. You can get a guide to Access Yes! properties at Fish and Game offices and at many license vendors.
 
Access Guide

Chukar Up Stable

No chukar surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but early reports from around the region suggest that hunters should find a similar number of birds compared to last year.

Gray Partridge Up Stable

The 2015 harvest was above average.  Given better habitat conditions, hunters should expect to find a similar number of birds compared to last year.  Reports from the field indicate a good number of broods.

California Quail Up Up

During the past several years, quail hunting has been very good in the Magic Valley and it appears there is another above average crop this year. Hunters should expect to find areas with abundant quail along the Snake River and its tributaries west of Twin Falls although good quail numbers are also being observed as far north as Shoshone.

Forest Grouse (Dusky, Ruffed, Spruce) Up Stable

No population surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but anecdotal reports from field personnel and early reports suggest a good hatch and higher fall populations of dusky grouse in the northern portions of the Magic Valley Region.

Editor note: Incorrect information about pheasant stocking has been corrected. The text reads correctly now.