Selection of nesting and brood-rearing habitat by female ring-necked pheasants in the Willamette Valley, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ns064b13w

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  • During spring 1981, 112 radio-equipped female pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), were released in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Hens were monitored to determine location of nest and brood-rearing sites. Vegetation around each nest and brood-rearing site was classified as one of 5 cover types available on the study areas. Further description of these sites was done by estimating percent of 9 structural characters of vegetation present around nests and brood locations. Selection indices (SI) were calculated for each cover type and structural character used for nesting and brood-rearing. Brood data were analyzed for 2 age classes, 1-4 weeks of age (young broods) and 5-8 weeks of age (older broods). Though strip vegetation had the highest selection index (9.3) it also had one of the lowest nest success rates (33%). In contrast, grain and grass fields had the highest success rates (50%). Selection indices for all nests indicated a trend for hens to select medium grass (SI = 1.5), tall grass (SI = 1.3) and forbs (SI = 1.5) in greater proportions than occurred in the habitat. Short grass (SI = 0.6), shrubs (SI = 0.5) and trees (SI = 0.1) were selected less than their occurrence. Maximum vegetative height (MVH) was greater around nest sites than the general habitat (SI = 1.2). Percentage of tall grass and MVH estimated around successful nests were significantly greater (P < 0.05) than around unsuccessful nests. Percent short grass was significantly greater (P < 0.05) around unsuccessful nests. Taller vegetation and greater amounts of tall grass probably resulted in better concealment and security for successful hens and their nests. Even though nesting hens and broods selected similar cover types, distinct differences existed in structural characters of nesting and brood-rearing vegetation. Selection indices for medium grass, tall grass, and MVH were all slightly less than 1.0 and short grass was selected proportional to it occurrence. Forbs (SI = 1.3) were selected similarily for both nesting and brood-rearing sites as were shrubs and trees (usually much less than 1.0). Foraging habits and need of areas less restrictive to brood movement probably determined brood-rearing sites more than need for concealment. Broods did not select specific cover types or structural characters according to time of day (morning, midday, evening) with one exception. Older broods selected tree cover for shade on hot days in greater proportion than it occurred in the habitat during midday (SI = 1.3). Grain fields probably provided the best habitat for successful nesting and brood-rearing. Security and concealment were factors in nest site selection and success. Broods apparently did not require the amount of concealment that hens did around nests.
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