Upland hunters in southwest Idaho are finding more birds this fall than they have seen in recent seasons.
Bird populations in other areas of the state appear to show less difference in general, though forest grouse numbers appear to be stronger across Idaho.
Better conditions for brooding in the spring means happier hunters and dogs this fall.
The Southwest Region encompasses desert, agricultural and forested habitats as well as the highest human population in Idaho. All of the state's upland bird species can be found in the region but there is no season for sharp-tailed grouse.
Better spring nesting and brooding weather this year takes the credit for increased game birds, according to Idaho Fish and Game upland game and migratory bird coordinator Don Kemner. He noted that nesting conditions were about the same last year but chilly rains came at a bad time for hatchling chicks. This year, the pieces fell into place to produce more abundant broods. Moisture did come this year in a period good for insects that feed chicks.
Overwinter survival has not been a problem for birds in recent years and habitat on public lands where quail, partridge and grouse are commonly found has not changed significantly. Development and current agricultural practices continue to hold pheasant numbers far below historic levels across the ringneck's southern Idaho range but hunters may find more birds where remnant populations hang on.
Kemner said early reports from hunters indicated more of them finding forest grouse. Larger chukar broods were also reported in the region.
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