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Crowing Counts Up Statewide

Watch the spring pheasant crowing count webcast with R.J. Gross.

The number of roosters heard crowing during the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2023 spring pheasant crowing count survey was up 30% statewide from last year. 

“We documented increased production for most of the state during 2022 brood routes compared to the last couple years, and we also confirmed high reproduction rates while aging hunter-submitted pheasant wings,” said R.J. Gross, department upland game management biologist. “So, the increase in pheasant density comes as no surprise despite the high snowfall this past winter.”

The primary regions holding pheasants showed 19.5 crows per stop in the southwest, up from 14.1 in 2022; 16.6 crows per stop in the northwest, up from 13.7; and 12.8 crows per stop in the southeast, up from 9.7. The count in the northeast, which is not a primary region for pheasants, was 3.3 crows per stop, up from 3.0 last year. 

“Current conditions are excellent across the state with adequate moisture this spring and early summer. These conditions should foster insect hatches, which would provide forage to chicks for brood rearing,” Gross said. “Pheasant chicks hatch from early June through late July. Much of nesting success will depend on the weather, and we will more accurately assess pheasant production during our late summer roadside counts, which begin at the end of July.”

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period.

The number of pheasant crows heard are compared to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary.

Heat map of crowing counts seen on 2023 survey routes