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Idaho Fish and Game

Upland Bird Forecast - Magic Valley Region

Magic Valley Region

2023 Conditions

Abundant winter and early spring precipitation created good habitat conditions for upland game birds. Fish and Game field staff are reporting higher numbers of quail and partridge across the region compared to recent years. Pheasants are below recent and long-term averages due to continued habitat loss. No surveys are conducted for forest grouse, but these species are somewhat buffered from drought and other unfavorable conditions because forbs and insects tend to persist longer in these higher-elevation habitats. Numbers this fall will likely be near average. 

With hot and dry conditions this summer, birds will likely be concentrated around water and food sources. While the mix of both good and bad conditions for upland game birds over the past several years has made it difficult to forecast numbers in the fall, it is generally expected that game bird numbers have increased from 2022 and will be at or above the 10-year average. 


  • Trend from last year (2022): Down
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Down
  • Pheasant numbers have remained relatively low in the Magic Valley Region since the mid-1980s due to changes in farming practices and resultant loss of habitat. Pheasant stocking will continue at Niagara Springs WMA and on Bureau of Reclamation Tracts F27 and F28 in Minidoka County. 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

  • Trend from last year (2022): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Stable
  • Spring lek surveys and anecdotal information suggest sharp-tailed grouse numbers have experienced a slight decrease during the past decade. However, populations remain strong and currently provide liberal hunting opportunities. 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 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 good access to hunting areas.  The guide can also be viewed on the Fish and Game website at


  • Trend from last year (2022): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Stable
  • No chukar surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but early reports from around the region suggest hunters should find more birds than last year. Continued hot and dry conditions will likely congregate birds near water and green vegetation. Chukars can be found throughout the Magic Valley, however numbers are typically higher in the western portion of the region.

Gray Partridge (Hun)

  • Trend from last year (2022): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Stable
  • No surveys for gray partridge occur in the Magic Valley Region. Field staff are reporting good numbers of gray partridge in rangeland areas on public land. Numbers in and around irrigated agriculture will be similar to last year. 

California Quail

  • Trend from last year (2022): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Up
  • Quail hunting has been good in the Magic Valley Region over the last several years. This year’s crop should be better than last year. Hunters should expect to find the best hunting along the Snake River downstream of Twin Falls. Most quail are found on or near private property so be sure to ask permission first.

Forest Grouse (Dusky, Ruffed, Spruce)

  • Trend from last year (2022): Stable
  • 10-Year Trend (2014-2023): Stable
  • No forest grouse population surveys are conducted in the Magic Valley Region, but anecdotal reports from field personnel suggest an average hatch, with numerous hunting opportunities in both the northern and southern portions of the region.