From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, Here is the place for the Bay State waterfowler to discuss and share their Massachusetts duck hunting experiences.
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What caused the huge decline to practically non existent wild pheasant populations in Massachusetts? I was thinking about it and became curious. I understand the dramatic decrease in farmland played a big role in it but what about places that haven't seen much change in the past years? My father tells me about running his GSP's and in places like Beverly, Danvers and Newbury and hunting wild birds, old timers tell me about having pheasant in Boston suburbs. I'm a young guy so I've never laid eyes on a wild bird in MA but I know in my lifetime there were wild birds in my town and surrounding towns. I find it hard to believe that the predator population could increase to a point of annihilating a wild bird population. Does anybody still have wild birds in their neighborhood?
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Where I live I see pheasant during the summer months. I live on 6 acres of river and pond front that is only 2 miles from a massive agricultural feild that is stocked with pheasant. Not sure if they are wild birds but I consider them to be since they survived hunting season and a cold coyote dominated winter. With that said for a bird to hatch in the wild and live a full life nowadays even in ideal co ditions like where I am it would be one damn lucky bird. Nothing like seeing the expression on my English setters face when a nice rooster is walking my yard during July haha.
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I think the decline of Wild Pheasants and Bobwhite Quail directly correlates to the increase of raptors. In the 70's and early 80's Pheasants were very abundant. I used to hunt almost all the Boston Harbor Islands and would always get limits without the aid of a bird dog. They were prevailent almost every where on the south shore. I used to see them all of the time in Hull which was/is pretty much developed to it's fullest potential. At the time it was unusual to see a hawk or owl. Some might say it was the increase in coyotes and I agree they do contribute to the predation to an extent, but I think the fact that the Pheasants that were on an island would still be around in strong numbers if the coyotes were the primary reason. When we hunt the stocked areas we frequently find decapitated birds that are still warm, Ask anyone who has chickens what a raptor does when it gets a chicken and they will tell you it rips the head off first. The limited preferred open habitat now available coupled with a hawk siting on almost every acre has lead to the demise of upland birds in Massachusetts.
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Around here the decline is directly related to habitat changes and change in farming practices. They have to have cover to nest in. Predation is a small factor.
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Check with a state biologist for reasons. I agree with TomKat in that I cannot recall a biologist ever blaming predation for lack of birds. It is usually loss of habitat. But, of course, I am not aware of every comment by every biologist, and would like to hear from a Massachusetts state biologist for an opinion as to why few, if any, pheasants overwinter and reproduce in Massachusetts.
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HABITAT! Abandonment of farms led to widespread old fields and early-successional habitat in the late 1800's and early to mid 1900's, so pheasant became established and did well for a time. Now, the vast majority of that suitable habitat has either been developed or grown into forest, so there are virtually no wild-reproducing pheasants in MA.
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Loss of habitat has to be a huge factor. We have lost A LOT of private land in MA over the years. A lot of my dad's old pheasant spots are now residential neighborhoods.
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Mike M. wrote:Loss of habitat has to be a huge factor. We have lost A LOT of private land in MA over the years. A lot of my dad's old pheasant spots are now residential neighborhoods.
Same All I would hear from my dad would be about area's he used to hunt and those area's seemed like they had an endless supply of birds. Now those area's have mc-mansions on them.
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Back in my college days (mid 70's) we shot our share of beautiful wild pheasant. Sure predators and habitat loss contributed but I believe the biggest factor casing the decline was the change in regulations allowing the shooting of hens.
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grr0202 wrote:Back in my college days (mid 70's) we shot our share of beautiful wild pheasant. Sure predators and habitat loss contributed but I believe the biggest factor casing the decline was the change in regulations allowing the shooting of hens.
Doubt it. If there was a "cocks only" regulation again, which there are a few, I don't think you would see any wild population take hold. The shooting of hens began long after the decline in wild birds. Habitat loss and habitat management is where the problem lies. Species numbers of all kinds balance an ecosystem. It takes care of itself, but can't if we screw it up.
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I saw 2 pheasants in my back yard about 10 years ago. I've got to assume that they were wild, since my house is over 20 miles from the closest stocking area. Haven't seen one since.
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