Bird numbers jump way up over last year in SoCal

spectr17

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BIRD SEASON LOOKS EXCELLENT -- Jim Matthews column 04aug04

Bird numbers jump way up over last year

Outdoor News Service

Dove, quail, and chukar numbers are all up significantly from last year in spite of continued drought. Rains came at the right time in desert and foothill areas of Southern California to spur production this spring, and Department of Fish and Game biologists are saying this is going to be a banner year for bird hunters.

"I've got good news -- I've got record bird numbers," said Rocky Thompson, a DFG biologist from Lake Isabella. "These are the highest counts I've had since I've been doing this. If you liked last year, you're going to love this year."

Thompson does his quail and chukar composition counts in the popular hunting areas in the Red Mountain region and the southern Sierra. He classified 2,781 chukar from just 14 different locations, and the average brood size was just over nine birds. While that is below the incredible brood size of 16 he recorded last year, there were so many adult holdover birds that Thompson said he counted 900 more chukar this year than his previous best count.

Andy Pauli, the DFG biologist for the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County classified 665 Gambel's quail at just two desert water sources in the Mojave National Preserve and reported that the average brood size was 10 young per pair, and his West Mojave chukar tallies showed an average brood size of 13 1/2 young per pair.

"It's definitely going to be a good year," said Pauli.

On the Colorado River, Gerald Mulcahy, a DFG biologist in Blythe, said that quail numbers look "excellent."

"Our numbers got so darn low, we haven't had a good season in probably 10 years. This is the best year I've seen on my bird counts in at last three or four years -- and numbers are way up," said Mulcahy.

Thompson, Pauli, and Mulcahy also all echoed the same thing about dove numbers: there's more than there has been for several years. Even with doves in this region on a slight increase the past few seasons, there has been a noticeable and significant jump again this year.

"Our coo counts were higher than normal in the East Mojave," said Pauli, who also counted over 100 doves at one spring in the West Mojave, the highest count there in several years.

All this bodes well for bird hunters, but heavy use of guzzlers by more birds than normal and hot conditions the past month has many of these water sources running dry. Hunters doing preseason scouting are encouraged to take water with them to add to guzzlers and report guzzlers that are running dry to local DFG offices. Cliff McDonald, an activist fighting to keep cattle water on the Mojave National Preserve, said this week that Needles hunters have been hauling water to dozens of tanks and guzzlers in the East Mojave since early July, and Mulcahy confirmed the DFG and volunteers had been doing the same thing in the Blythe region.

This water work will just assure that all desert wildlife has a place to drink and help assure we have good hunting again this fall.
 

tinner

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where does niland and blythe fit into all of this
 

spectr17

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
On the Colorado River, Gerald Mulcahy, a DFG biologist in Blythe, said that quail numbers look "excellent."[/b]
 

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