[Tweeters] pheasants in Skagit County

Philip Dickinson pdickins at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 11:32:15 PST 2016

Last Tuesday, some our Pilchuck Audubon group saw a pheasant sitting in a
drive along Mann/Moberg Rd. in Skagit.

Phil Dickinson
Lake Stevens

On Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 7:30 AM, Gary Bletsch <garybletsch at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Tweeters,


> It always surprises me when I see the Ring-necked Pheasant on an eBird

> checklist for Skagit County. There have been many of those lately, mostly

> coming from the Game Range at Wylie Slough. At Wylie, hapless pheasants are

> kept in pens, visible on the right as one drives in.


> This species does not appear to breed in the wild or semi-wild anywhere in

> Skagit County. As far as I can tell, virtually all Ring-necked Pheasants

> here are birds that have been released so that hunters can kill them. The

> remainder are birds that have escaped from pheasant fanciers. All of the

> sightings that I have had of this species in Skagit County, going back to

> 1989, have been birds at or near release sites, or birds near farms where

> they were raised by pheasant fanciers. The latter include birds near Lyman,

> where the late Mr. Ken Byerly raised them until about fifteen years ago,

> and Sedro-Woolley, where gallinaceous birds were raised by a man who lived

> on the east edge of town.


> I have never seen a brood of pheasants in the wild in Skagit County. I

> don't know of anyone who has. If we start seeing them, and they persist for

> a decade or so, we might consider the population viable. Until then, it

> seems reasonable to leave these birds off the eBird checklists.


> The Smith, Mattocks, and Cassidy breeding bird atlas came out in 1997; it

> does show a tiny handful of open circles from Skagit, but those were all

> records of "possible breeding evidence." That is, someone saw a Ring-necked

> Pheasant in the breeding season. That just means a bird eluded the hunters

> for a few extra months. The book also shows a shaded area of appropriate

> habitat, but as far as I know, the birds never established a viable

> population--at least, not one that was capable of surviving hunting season

> after hunting season. Survivors of a hunting season would be supplanted

> with additional releases the following year, making for the appearance of a

> continuing wild population. The book shows that there was breeding in

> coastal Whatcom County, but that area is separated from Skagit by a long

> stretch of dense coastal forest along Chuckanut.


> Perhaps years ago, when Bobwhites were also released here, there might

> have been some self-supporting populations of pheasants in Skagit County,

> but that is all history now. In my opinion, a birder in Skagit might as

> well count chickens, Muscovy Ducks, Toulouse geese, guinea fowl, and

> escaped psitticines and canaries. Those birds are as much a part of our

> wild avifauna as is the pheasant.



> Yours truly,


> Gary Bletsch





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