Extreme Cold

Hoping this extreme cold will not hurt the pheasant population too much, but depending on what kind of cover the birds did or didn't find it is certainly possible that it could severely hurt numbers in certain pockets. Here in southern Minnesota, it was brutal overnight last night. Close to -70 windchill, and as cold as -31 air temp this morning. The 10 minutes I spent outside in the yard doing a few chores yesterday evening was the most brutal cold I've ever felt on my body- there's no way I could have been outside for an extended period, no matter how well prepared.
 

ditch-chicken

New member
Hoping this extreme cold will not hurt the pheasant population too much, but depending on what kind of cover the birds did or didn't find it is certainly possible that it could severely hurt numbers in certain pockets. Here in southern Minnesota, it was brutal overnight last night. Close to -70 windchill, and as cold as -31 air temp this morning. The 10 minutes I spent outside in the yard doing a few chores yesterday evening was the most brutal cold I've ever felt on my body- there's no way I could have been outside for an extended period, no matter how well prepared.
By all means be safe!!! These temps are no joke!!! I'm trying to plan my trip for the fall to SD for 2019. Very interested to see what the numbers look like later in the year........
 
I'm trying to plan my trip for the fall to SD for 2019. Very interested to see what the numbers look like later in the year........
I think across the entire upper Midwest, we've so far had a very favorable winter that should increase bird numbers for next year. Until this week... I fear that this kind of cold is the cold that could potentially lower bird numbers for a few years to come? All it takes is 8 or 9 out of 10 hens in an area to not be in sufficient cover and die in this kind of cold. Or am I underthinking how hardy the birds could be?
 

McFarmer

Member
Not much snow cover around here so they should have feed and a good fat cover. They can hole up for a couple days and wait it out.

Down in those cattails it should be pretty reasonable.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
Unfortunately these are the type conditions/temperatures that kill birds. I have to say we most likely lost birds last night and more to come tonight.

Similar temperatures hit the mid-west (I believe) in 95/96. We lost a huge portion of our wild bird population(s). God willing we'll have a better out-come this time around. Time will tell how they handled this.

Also, food sources/access to food and having a full crop unfortunately do not make much of a difference with these kind of temperatures. The killer is the freezing of condensation from their breathing or blowing snow. Moister can freeze so fast it begins to form ice within the nostrils and/or throat of the birds. The end result is suffocation of the bird.
 

Miforester

Member
These temps are brutal, went out to tend my pigeons and wood boiler, was out 10 minutes and my beard and eyelashes were iced. That being said if there isn't a heavy snow load that has beaten down the habitat, then the birds will be able to survive. If habitat is beaten down then this weather could have severe impact.
 

benelli-banger

Active member
I think they will weather this event ok...prefer that it didn't happen, but I read an article by SD GFP this am and it talked about the big factor is availability of food, and I don't think the fields are overly covered with deep snow and ice currently...there has been drifting, but not in the middle of the farm fields...I was just out in my area a week ago for a funeral and it didn't look too bad...we had just gotten some light fluffy snow, nothing that would hinder food sourcing...
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
It looks like this cold snap will start breaking up around here tomorrow. Thank God it's not going to last a full week.

I'm sure most of you have seen this in the past but just in case below is a link with some photos of birds that where killed by red-ice. The video is no longer up but you can see in the photos how red-ice kills pheasants.

Notice how the break on one of the birds burst/busted outward from the condensation build-up forming/freezing within his airways.


https://www.ultimatepheasanthunting...94-Pheasants-Found-dead-due-to-Winter-Exposre
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Much more deep snow + the cold in the late 90s events. If the cattail sloughs and other winter cover are filled with snow, they have no where to escape the elements.

Brief cold snap or two may kill birds that are already stressed, but overall this winter seems to be relatively mild.
 
the big factor is availability of food, and I don't think the fields are overly covered with deep snow and ice currently...there has been drifting, but not in the middle of the farm fields..
You are correct about that. Last sunday morning was what now feels like a balmy -12 outside and the (corn) field behind my house had about 3 dozen roosters and 1 dozen hens all out in the middle of the feed pecking through the snow. I watched them with binoculars and they appeared to be as happy and healthy as could be. We've got a large slough across the road from us that holds decent cover.
 

benelli-banger

Active member
30-40 below is too cold, it got some. Many just die on the roost.
probably true...but overall, conditions aren't that bad...I was hunting on january 5th in a T shirt and my hunting vest...a few days of intense cold probably did kill some, but I would worry more about a spring blizzard that came up out of nowhere and had lots of wind and freezing rain...even at 25 degrees or 30 degrees...if 30 below in and of itself was such a killer, we'd not have many ruffed grouse in NE MN...or sharp tails in the areas that they inhabit, where -30 or -40 happens a lot...I don't want to dismiss it, that is for sure, but we have a decent amount of fluffy snow, and the birds were burrowing in it on my last hunt...that provides ALOT of terrific insulation...just like an igloo...fluffy snow mixed in the cattails is a pretty decent place for critters to hang out, especially if their bellies are full, which they should have been...
 
Last sunday morning was what now feels like a balmy -12 outside and the (corn) field behind my house had about 3 dozen roosters and 1 dozen hens all out in the middle of the feed pecking through the snow. I watched them with binoculars and they appeared to be as happy and healthy as could be. We've got a large slough across the road from us that holds decent cover.
Looks like this bunch near me survived the cold stretch. This past weekend when it warmed up, there was a group of about 1 dozen roosters and 4 dozen hens scratching in the field near my house both Saturday and Sunday morning.
 

watermen

Member
Two different Dakota residents told me the loss was very minor from the snap. Lost 5-10% of their yard birds. Thankfully very minor it appears.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
In most parts of SD, extreme cold is almost the least of their worries, since where there are pheasants....there's good cover. They know how to stay warm. What gets them are extended periods where there's so much hard packed snow/ice on fields that they have trouble feeding. Or an abnormally bad blizzard that socks in all the trees & cattails w/ snow, followed by extreme cold. Or freezing rain/drizzle (usually a more localized event). So far this winter, we really haven't had these events of much significance. And with so much abnormally warm weather, the birds should have entered any tough stretches in better shape than usual. So far, things in SD are looking good for spring nesting.
 

TBIRD19

New member
On my drive to Mille Lacs this past weekend, Friday was a decent day warmth wise post cold snap, we seen 4 different spots along the way of multiple birds feeding out in fields from Forest Lake to Milaca. A very small sample size yes, but did lift my spirits seeing they appeared fairly healthy and about, proceeding the cold snap.
 

sdviking

Member
Drove the highway from Doland to Groton SD today, its approximately 39 miles. I would guess we say over 400 pheasants in the fields with cattails and soybeans. The deer herds were out scraping for food and the Pheasants were mixed in going after the seeds. Was really a nice thing to see. Snow is deep in the trees and most fields have 4 to 6 inches of snow on top so the birds are having to work hard for the feed. Ditches and corn fields have a lot of snow. SDviking
 
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