It’s a mixed bag out there in southern Alberta for upland bird populations. The drought and June heat dome had a certain negative effect on habitat conditions and local hail storms had a negative effect on production.
The Milk River Ridge is reporting fair to good Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse while ring-necked pheasant have not rebounded from the 2017 snow event. Ringnecks like their cousins the partridge and chicken typically bounce back after a set back, but for whatever reason, they seem to be lagging significantly. Some folks speculate that insect populations are down, others claim predators are at an all time high. It may likely be a combination of these factors, along with habitat loss and weather conditions.
The Bow River Drainage is reporting good numbers of Hungarian partridge, particularly the western half. There are good numbers of coveys, the average number in coveys is high and the birds seemed to have a successful early hatch. Ring-necked pheasant recruitment seems to be relatively low, with fair to good numbers of mature birds and hens around, however, a lack of young birds is of some concern.
The Red Deer River is a mixed bag as well. The eastern portion of the drainage experienced a large snow fall in early winter that lasted the year. The drought and a few hail storms effected production. Hungarian partridge populations are down with less coveys observed and smaller coveys across the board, as well, coveys are smaller than average in size. All signs of a late hatch, which is invariably less productive than early successful nesting. Ring-necked pheasant populations seem to be locally good with areas with lots of young birds and healthy population of hens, while sharp-tailed grouse populations are down again from last year.
Best of luck afield for the back half of the season!