Daily Archives: October 12, 2013

Invasive plants reduce number of bird songs

Roberta Kwok

Conservation This Week

Invasive plants could make forests a bit duller. According to a study in Ecology, birds that live in areas infested with weeds sing a smaller repertoire of songs.

The authors studied six sites in Lolo National ForestMontana. Three were overrun by invasive spotted knapweed, and three were relatively unaffected by the infestation. In 2005 and 2006, the team surveyed chipping sparrows at each site and recorded their songs.

The infested sites had fewer native forbs and grasses and a lower proportion of older birds, the researchers report. Young birds typically mimicked their elders’ songs. The team detected an average of 9.2 songs per year at the sites with native plants, but only 7.6 songs at the invaded sites.

The results suggest that plant invasions “may erode song diversity,” the authors write. The yearlings have fewer old birds to learn from in these habitats, “resulting in increased similarity among songs and fewer song types overall.”

2013 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast now Available

Despite drought during the reproductive season, some upland game hunters may experience a memorable harvest this fall

The 2013 Upland Bird Forecast is now available for viewing online at ksoutdoors.com, and although population levels are projected to be less than favorable, upland bird hunters willing to travel to northern Kansas, may find a silver lining to the season.

Since extreme drought conditions persisted in most of the state again this year, ideal vegetation conditions were scarce going into the breeding season. This left most upland game birds without sufficient brood rearing cover and insect abundance, and thus led to a lower than average chick survival rate. Although the precipitation that fell across much of the state in late summer came too late to improve the upcoming season, biologists anticipate upland bird hunters may see enhanced conditions and a potential for better production next summer as vegetation conditions continue to improve.

As with any forecast, predictions are general and regional in nature. Although survey data indicate below average bird populations, hunters willing to work will likely find pockets with adequate bird numbers. Going from poor to fair hunting can often be as simple as driving 30 miles.

Listed below are statewide summaries on pheasant, quail, and prairie chickens. For the full forecast, including region-specific summaries, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting /Upland Birds/Upland Bird Regional Forecast.” For a printed copy of the 2013 Upland Bird Forecast, 2013 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, and 2013 Kansas Hunting Atlas, call (620) 672-5911.

PHEASANT – Pheasant populations in Kansas continue to suffer from the extended drought. Breeding populations dropped across their range from 2012 to 2013 resulting in less adult hens in the population to start the 2013 nesting season. However, opportunities will still exist to harvest roosters in theSunflower State, especially for those willing to work for their birds. Though the drought has taken its toll,Kansas still has one of the best pheasant populations and the fall harvest will again be among the best in the country. The best areas this year will likely be pockets in northwest and northcentral Kansas.

QUAIL – The statewide bobwhite breeding population decreased in 2013 compared to 2012, but there is some variation across the state. Areas east of the Flint Hills showed improved productivity this year. Populations have rebounded over the last two years in eastern Kansas, but overall populations are still below historic averages. The best quail hunting will likely be found within the Flint Hills and southeast regions.

PRAIRIE CHICKEN – The spring prairie chicken lek survey indicated that most populations remained stable or declined slightly from last year. Areas within the Flint Hills and southcentral regions fared the best, while areas in the northern and western regions, where the drought was most severe, experienced the sharpest declines. Many areas in the Flint Hills were not burned this spring due to drought conditions. This resulted in slightly more residual grass cover for nesting compared to recent years. There have been some reports of prairie chicken broods in these areas, and hunting will likely be somewhat improved compared to recent years.

Upland Game Bird Seasons (Possession limits are four times the daily bag limit.)


Regular: November 9, 2013 – January 31, 2014

Youth: November 2-3, 2013

Area Open: Statewide

Daily Bag Limit: 4 cocks in regular season, 2 cocks in youth season

NOTE: Pheasants in possession for transportation must retain intact a foot, plumage, or some part that will determine sex.


Regular: November 9, 2013 – January 31, 2014

Youth: November 2-3, 2013

Area Open: Statewide

Daily Bag Limit: 8 in regular season, 4 in youth season

PRAIRIE CHICKEN (Permit required)

Early (East and Northwest zones): Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, 2013

Daily Bag Limit: 2 (single species or in combination)

Regular (East and Northwest zones): Nov. 16, 2013 – Jan. 31, 2014

Daily Bag Limit: 2 (single species or in combination)

Southwest Zone: Nov. 16 – Dec. 31, 2013

Daily Bag Limit: 1  

Westar Energy Green Team Invite Youth on Deer Hunt

Applications for the Jeffrey Energy Center youth deer hunt due Nov. 1

The Westar Energy Green Team will host a youth rifle deer hunt at the Jeffrey Energy Center, seven miles north of St. Marys, Dec. 4-15 and Jan. 1-12. Youth 12 and older are invited to attend and submit an application by Nov. 1. A limited number of spots are available, so hunts will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunts will be conducted from ground blinds in the early morning and late afternoon, and will be led by volunteer, experienced hunters. Hunters must be accompanied by an adult mentor and are encouraged to bring their own rifle; however, one can be provided upon request. Hunters must have a Unit 9 deer permit and hunters 16 and older must possess a hunting license and hunter education certificate.

An orientation session will be held on Nov. 16 to instruct hunters on safety, deer biology, and assist youth with sighting-in rifles. To apply for the hunt, contact Barb Cornelius at (785) 575-8125. Hunters successful in receiving a spot will be notified by Nov. 8.

The Green Team’s annual youth deer hunts are part of an initiative designed to introduce youth to hunting, and encourage hunting as a life-long tradition.