Upland Bird Forecast - Magic Valley Region

Magic Valley Region

2019 Conditions – An unusually wet and cold spring was generally unfavorable for upland bird nesting. Brood rearing conditions were generally favorable. Department personnel are reporting average to below average numbers of broods for all upland game species. Generally, bird numbers will be slightly down compared to the 2018 season and lower 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.

Pheasant

  • Trend from last year (2018): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Down
  • Pheasant numbers have remained 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 should 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

  • Trend from last year (2018): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Down
  • Spring lek surveys and anecdotal information suggest sharp-tailed grouse numbers may have experienced a 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. The guide can also be viewed on the Fish and Game website at: https://idfg.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/yes/

Chukar

  • Trend from last year (2018): Down
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Stable
  • No chukar surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but early reports from around the region suggest that bird numbers will be down slightly compared to last year. Wet and cool spring conditions likely impacted nesting and brood survival.

Gray Partridge (Hun)

  • Trend from last year (2018): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Stable
  • Similar to chukars, reports from around the region indicate gray partridge numbers in rangeland habitats will be down from last year. Wet and cool spring weather likely affected gray partridge nesting and brood rearing. Partridge numbers in and around irrigated agriculture should be similar to last year.

California Quail

  • Trend from last year (2018): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Stable
  • During the past several years, quail hunting has been very good in the Magic Valley. However spring conditions likely affected this year’s crop of birds. Hunters should expect to find areas with good quail numbers 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)

  • Trend from last year (2018): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2010-2019): Stable
  • No population surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but anecdotal reports from field personnel and early reports suggest an average hatch in the Magic Valley Region.