Wild pheasant roosters aggressively dominate protective habitat and food supplies, especially in winter. Wild pheasant hens have a tough time when shelter or food resources are limited. Fence lines and tree belts are beneficial, but large areas of tall dense brush, such as fire weed (kochia), assure hen survival. Annual populations are proportional to hen survival.
In April hens and roosters leave the dense winter cover to select nesting sites. The wide expanse of no-till cropland makes it difficult for predators to find them, their eggs, and their chicks. Wild pheasant hens make nests in previous crop residues and growing wheat. Prior to “no till” farming systems, many nests were destroyed by tillage operations employed prior to spring planting. Permanent kochia habitat areas provide nesting as well as winter protection and food supply. Wheat fields are favorite nesting sites for wild pheasant hens. Natural springs and potholes assure a supply of insects, the primary food source for young broods.
Young pheasants spend their first summer in specially harvested wheat fields. Roosters’ bright colors begin to develop in August. In September tail feathers lengthen. Identification of roosters versus hens becomes easier. No-till field operations show pheasant counts of 1 to 3 birds per acre; an ample supply for the approaching hunt season.