Wow! With this last surge of snow I’m sure many are concerned about the upland birds. I know there is not anything we can do about this abnormally heavy snow, especially in mid February, but we all are concerned with how this is going to affect the birds.. 15 days ago the season end came and I was thrilled about how many carry over birds there were. Now the concern is will this weather have an impact on those carry over birds.
My opinion is, if this is like most late snows, we will be okay. As of now there is about 16 inches of fresh snow at my house. It’s a pretty heavy snow and putting a lot of load on shrubbery. These two Juniper trees are bent over to look like a bush because of the heavy weight.
It’s not too good for the tree but it provides an area with less snow for wildlife to hide and get to forage. The hills have as much as 6 more inches than here and with close to 2 feet of snow, how do the birds get to feed? Here’s a short video taken last year of a couple of pheasants handling the snow. There’s only about 6 inches of snow but it shows how they can improvise.
Even in 2 feet of snow they know how to get to the food. As long as it is powdery like it is now. The ability to get food is hampered once the wet snow freezes and crusts over. Then it becomes difficult for the birds to scratch through the ice to get to seeds. Also this soft snow acts as cover for the birds. They can hide from birds of prey much easier than on the crusty snow. I walked down to the mailbox this morning with the dogs and they found this hun hidden under the snow. Evidently the snow doesn’t knock their scent down.
Five huns flushed from this fence line when I walked up to it. Look at the amount of feed and cover along the fence. Grady knew they were there.
Grady couldn’t get these quail to flush from their cover. I watched at least a dozen birds duck in there.
Even though this storm brought a lot of snow, I believe it won’t have much of an impact on the birds. Especially chukars. Once the sun starts to shine the southern steep slopes will melt off quickly and expose more feed. The birds that depend on the lower fields and draws may have a little tougher time because the snow will last a little longer. But I think they’ll do pretty well also.
Another thing to consider this time of the year is the night time. Quail, huns and chukars need to covey up to keep warm. During late hunting seasons and this time of the year it’s important to give them time to regroup at the end of the day.
I believe the birds will survive this storm just fine but with that I still say keep your fingers crossed and look for that sun to melt those slopes quickly. Enjoy this white outdoors.