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Full text of "Distribution and abundance of pheasants in Illinois"




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"AiUHAL HISTORY 
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DISTRIBUTION 



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. FREDERICK GREELEY 






. .RONALD F. LABISKYt., • ''A 



STUART H. MANN 



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Biological Notes No. 47\1 




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Printed by Aufhorify of the State of lllinoit 

NATURAL HISTORY 
SURVEY DIVISION \' 

Harlow B. Mills, Chief 

Urbana, Illinois 

March, 1962 -^ ' 



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DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE OF PHEASANTS IN ILLINOIS* 

FREDERICK GREELEY, RONALD F. LABISKY, AND STUART H. MANNt 



The exotic ring-necked plieasant {Pliasianus cole In- 
cus) , introduced into Illinois in the 1890's, has suc- 
ceeded in establishing self-maintaining po])ulations in 
approximately the northeastern third of the state. When 
the prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) declined in 
number with the encroachment of intensified agricul- 
ture upon the grasslands of Illinois (Yeatter 1943:413), 
sportsmen found the pheasant to be a suitable substitute 
as a game bird. The pheasant occupies a variety of 
habitats within its range in North America, but it is 
most abundantly associated with intensive farming. In 
Illinois, as elsewhere, pheasants have become most 
abundant in tlie intensively cultivated cash-grain areas 
(Robertson 1958:13), fig. 1. 

Several investigators (Leopold 1931, Marquardt & 
Scott 1952, Robertson 1958, Greeley 1960) have meas- 
ured and mapped the distribution of pheasants in Illi- 
nois. In this report the previous literature is reviewed 
and new information and maps, figs. 2-8, on the distri- 
bution and abundance of pheasants in Illinois are pre- 
sented. Information of this kind is useful in the proper 
management of the pheasant resource in Illinois, as well 
as for establishment of hunting regulations. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

Acknowledgments are made to the following person- 
nel, present or past, of the Illinois Natural History 
Survey: Thomas G. Scott, Wildlife Specialist and 
Head, Section of Wildlife Research, who provided ad- 
ministrative and technical supervision throughout the 
study; Carl O. Mohr and Ralph E. Yeatter, Wildlife 
Specialists, who contributed both data and commentary 
on distribution of pheasants in Illinois; Mrs. Carl Chen, 
Laboratory Assistant, who compiled and analyzed many 
of the rural mail carrier reports; Jack A. Ellis, Research 
Associate, who gave many helpful suggestions through- 
out the study; James S. Ayars, Technical Editor, and 
Edward C. Visnow, Assistant Technical Editor, who ed- 
ited the manuscript (Visnow also prejjared the maps) ; 
and Wilmer D. Zehr, Assistant Technical Photograijher, 
who did the photographic work. 

William L. Preno, fJamc Uiologisi, Illinois Dc]jart- 
nicnt of Conservation, ]jrovidcd new information from 
state-wide censuses of pheasants. Charles Davis, Secre- 
tary, Illinois Rural Letter Carriers Association, helped 

* A contribution of Illinois Federal Aid Proicct.s No. 61-R, and No. 
'*<I-R, the Illinois Department of C:onscrvation, the United States Btircaii 
of Sport I'islieries and Wildlife, and llie Illinois Natural History Survey, 
co-operatint?. 

t Frederick Greeley was formerly Research Associate, and Stuart H. 
Mann is Research Assistant, botft emjjloyed by the Illinois Department of 
Conservation imder terms of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act 
and assi^^ed to the Illinois .Natural History Survey for administrative and 
technical supervision: Cireeley is now Associate Professor of WiUllife 
Management. I'niversity of Massaehusells, Amherst. Ronald F. Lahisky 
H Associate Wildlife Specialist, Illinois Natural History Survey, Urbana. 



organize the rural mail carrier surveys, and nearly 1,000 
rural mail carriers of Illinois participated in the surveys. 

METHODS 

Maps of regional or continental distribution of 
pheasants have been compiled by Leopold (1931:106), 
Walcott (1945:4), Aldrich & Duvall (19.55:21), Mc- 
Cabe et al. (1956:275), and Wagner & Besadny 
(1958:5). 

Many sources of data have been used to obtain indi- 
ces to pheasant populations in large geographic areas. 
Leopold (1931), who compiled the first comprehensive 
report on the distribution of pheasants in Illinois and 
nearby states, obtained data from literature, from inter- 
views and correspondence with local authorities, and 
from personal observations. 

Later, as the pheasant became more abundant in 
Illinois, other workers estimated the annual harvest of 
cocks from two types of cjucstionnaires filled out by 
hunters, and mapped the distribution of pheasant popu- 
lations by counties. 

Questionnaires of the first type, each attached as a 
stub to a hunting license, were to be filled out at the 
end of the hunting season by the holders of licenses and 
mailed to the Illinois Department of Conservation 
(Marquardt & Scott 1952:4; Carl O. Mohr unpub- 
lished). About 5 per cent of nearly a half million 
hunters returned license-stub questionnaires for the 
1950-51 hunting season, according to Marquardt & 
Scott (1952:4), who recognized that, in the question- 
nanes returned, inaccuracies existed both as to the 
number of pheasants reported taken and the counties in 
which they were reported taken. 

Questionnaires of the second type, each on a double 
postcard, were mailed after the hunting season to a 
small number of license holders whose names and ad- 
dresses were taken from the records of tlie state agencv 
issuing licenses to hunt small game. On these posthunt- 
ing season c]uestionnaires, hunters were asked to report 
the number of wild cocks they had shot and the counties 
in which they had killed them but not to report pheas- 
ants shot in public or pri\ate shooting presenes. The 
rates of return from these questionnaires (Robertson 
1958:105) were much higher than those from the 
license-stub questionnaires. Robertson (1958:106) sus- 
pected four sources of bias in data derived from the 
posthunting season questionnaires: "(1) the tendency 
of the more successful hunters to reply to questionnaires 
more readily than less successful hunters; (2) the tend- 
ency of himters to include the kill of other members of 
the hunting party in their reports: (3) the tendency to 
include kills made outside the area to which the report 



referred; and (4) deliberate distortions of fact, usually 
exaggerations." 

More direct efforts to estimate the state-wide abun- 
dance and distribution of pheasants were made by 
personnel of the Illinois Department of Conservation; 
these efforts involved winter sex ratios and spring counts 
of cock calls (William L. Preno unpublished). Spring 
counts of cock calls were obtained by recording the 
number of individual cocks heard crowing per 2-minute 
period at each of 20 stops located at 1-miIe intervals 
along 20-mile standardized census routes: these census 
routes were established through most of the range oc- 
cupied by pheasants in Illinois. The counting of cock 
calls was begun 40 minutes prior to sunrise and com- 
pleted about 40 minutes after sunrise. Usually two 
spring call counts were taken annually on each census 
route between late April and late May; only the highest 
of the two counts was used in calculating distribution 
and abundance of pheasants along a route. The average 
number of cocks recorded per stop along each route was 
used as an index to the number of cocks in the area. 
Factors influencing the validity of crowing counts have 
been discussed in detail by Kimball (1949). who first 
described the technicjue, Kozicky (1952), and Carney & 
Petrides (1957). 

During the winter preceding the spring counts of 
cock calls in Illinois, .sex ratios had been obtained from 
roadside counts of pheasants. Efforts had been made to 
obtain the sex ratio of a sample of at least 200 pheasants 
as near as possible to each route where a spring count 
of cock calls was to be taken. The number of hens in 
each area at the onset of the breeding season was esti- 
mated by multiplying the number of cocks, as deter- 
mined by the call counts in spring, by the number of 
hens per cock, as determined by the sex ratio obtained 
during the preceding winter. 

In 1957 and 1958, information on the distribution 
of pheasants in Illinois was obtained through data col- 
lected by rural mail carriers. The rural mail carriers of 
the state made six 5-day counts of pheasants along their 
routes: in February of 1957, in January of 1958, and 
in April and August of each of these years. The first 
count included all 102 counties of the state. The re- 
maining five counts were restricted to 76 coimties, which 
included all the counties of the contiguous range. .A 
map ]jreparcd by Greeley (1960:29) to show pheasant 
populations of Illinois in April, 1958, was based on a 
census by the rural mail carriers. 

Questionnaires (postcards), with letters of instruc- 
tion, were used in all six censuses. For the Fust l\\c) 
censuses they were mailed directly to individual mail 
carriers listed by the Illinois Rural Letter Carriers Asso- 
ciation and for the other foiu" censuses to postmasters at 
all post offices having rural routes. In the last four 
censuses, the postmaster distributed the postcard ques- 
tionnaires and instructions to the local mail carriers. 
The mail carriers were asked to report the counties and 
Uiwnsliips in wliich their routes were located, the length 



of each route in miles, and the number of pheasants 
(cocks, hens, chicks, and broods) obsersed along the 
route on each of the 5 consecutive days specified in the 
instructions submitted with questionnaires. If the route 
of a mail carrier extended into two or more townships, 
the reported data were divided equally among all the 
townships listed on the questionnaire. The number of 
miles driven and the number of pheasants seen during 
the 5-day period were used to calculate the number of 
pheasants observed per 100 miles of roadside obser\a- 
tion in each township. Township imits were used to 
map the distribution and abundance of phea.sants in 
Illinois, figs. 2-8. The use of township units for map- 
ping the range of pheasants has the advantage of 
geographically refining the limits of distribution and 
abundance to a greater extent than if units the size of 
a county, or larger, are used. 

Investigators have recognized that there is sampling 
error and bias in most data used in mapping distribu- 
tion and abundance of pheasant populations. The data 
on which the maps presented in this report are based 
undoubtedly contain both error and bias, but field ob- 
servations have tended to confirm the patterns of distri- 
bution shown for Illinois — sometimes in remarkable 
detail. 

EVALUATION OF COUNTS BY RURAL MAIL CARRIERS 

Rural mail carrier censuses of pheasants have been 
employed in Nebraska. North Dakota. South Dakota. 
Iowa, Missouri. Montana (Kimball <■/ al. 1956:2.'i7-9) . 
Michigan (MacMullan 1960:56-62), and Indiana (re- 
ported by William E. Ginn at Fourteenth Midwest 
Wildlife Conference, Des Moines. Iowa. 1952). Biases 
involved in censuses by rural mail carriei's have been 
recognized by all investigators using these censuses, but 
the data obtained by such censuses in most states have 
been found vei^v useful for determining annual indices 
to the abundance of pheasants and for showing pheasant 
distribution patterns. 

Rural mail carriers in Illinois exhibited mtei-est and 
participated enthusiastically in censusing pheasants. 
Nearly three-fomths of the questionnaires distributed 
to the carriers were returned, and most of the returned 
t|iiestionnaires contained usable information, table 1. 
In the percentage of questionnaires returned, there was 
no significaiu ditlerence between those distributed di- 
rectly to the carriei-s and those distributed to the carriers 
via postmasters. 

Several variable factors influenced the counts of 
pheasants by mail carriers: principally because the ef- 
fects of each were difficult to measure, no allowance 
was made for ilu-iu when the data were analyzed. 
Among these factors were (1) differences in interest or 
obser\ational skill of the indixidual carriers. (2"i ])lu- 
mage differences between cock and hen pheasants, 

(3) behavioral differences between cocks and hens, 

(4) seasonal differences in the amounts of vegetative 
growth, (5) differences in the amounts of snow cover 



4 



I 



Tabic 1. — Response of rural mail carriers in Illinois to ques- 
tionnaires relating to abundance of pheasants along their routes, 
1957 and 1958. 

Per Cent 
Per Cent of 

Number of of Returned 

Number of Question- Question- Question- 
Counties naircs naires naires 
Date Censused Mailed Returned Usable 

1957 

February 102 1 ,b:i4 76.0 97.4 

April 76 1,284 65.0 96.4 

August 76 1,423 62.5 90.3 

1958 

January 76 1,385 76.3 97.3 

April 76 1,390 76.7 * 

August 76 1,426 72.9 ....* 

Mean 71.6 95.4 

* Not calculated. 

during the winter counts, and (6) differences in such 
weather elements as wind, sunHght, temperature, pie- 
cipitation, and dew. 

Although individual differences undoubtedly existed 
among the carriers in their interest in this project and 
their ability to observe pheasants, few if any had been 
trained in censusing pheasants, and such differences as 
existed would tend to cancel each other over large, 
although perhaps not township, areas. 

The reported differences in the distribution and 
abundance of pheasants in the winters of 1957 and 
1958, figs. 2 and 3, were probably due partly to the 
effect of snow with respect to the obser\ability of pheas- 
ants and partly to an increase, in 1958, in the number 
of cocks in the population. The distribution and amount 
of snow arc cjuite variable in Illinois; it is unusual for 
the entire pheasant range to have snow on the ground 
in appreciable quantities at one time. Although snow 
cover was present at the beginning of the census period 
in February, 1957, a thaw removed much of the snow- 
over a large area in the northern counties of the state 
before the 5-day census was completed. In January, 
1958, there was deep snow (5-20 inches) over the 
census area except in portions of east-central and south- 



central Illinois. Average range-wide winter counts were 
1.7 cocks and 4.4 hens per 100 miles in February, 1957, 
and 4.8 cocks and 10,1 hens per 100 miles in January, 
1958, table 2. Evidence other than frt)m rural mail car- 
rier counts indicated that, at least in east-central Illinois, 
there were more cocks in the winter of 1958 than in the 
winter of 1957, but that the abundance of hens was 
similar. Rural mail carriers observed a relatively greater 
number of cocks in 1958 than in 1957; sex ratios were 
2.6 hens per cock in February, 1957, and 2.1 hens per 
cock in Januaiy, 1958, table 2. 

Fewer hen pheasants were seen by rural mail carriers 
in April than in winter, table 2, although in April the 
landscape is still quite barren of vegetation. Relatively 
greater numbers of the cocks present were observed 
during the April surveys than during the winter covmts, 
as indicated by seasonal differences in sex ratios; because 
of their behavior, as well as color, cocks are more con- 
spicuous than hens during the breeding season. The 
conditions for observing pheasants are probably more 
nearly constant from year to year in April than in any 
other month. April, therefore, may be the best time to 
use rural mail carrier censuses for obtaining annual 
indices of pheasant abundance. 

In August, development of vegetation restricts tin- 
field of vision of observers. During this month, the 
number of pheasants observed by the rural mail carriers 
was below the number seen in winter or spring, table 2, 
even though more pheasants were present. The pres- 
ence or absence of rain or dew on vegetation in the 
mornings probably affected the counts of pheasants 
made by carriers in August ; rural mail routes are gen- 
erally driven in the morning. Pheasants (chicks par- 
ticularly) seemingly lend to avoid wet vegetation by 
loafing on and along rural roads at this time of year, 
where they are easily visible. In Michigan, the \alidity 
of summer brood counts as measures of jiopulation 
changes from year to year was shown by direct correla- 
tion of brood counts by rural mail carriers with esti- 
mates of the state-wide kill of cocks diu'ing subseciuent 
hunting seasons (MacMullan 196(h 106-14) . 

The factors listed above unquestionably influenced 
the reliabilitv of counts of pheasants by rural mail car- 



Table 2. — Miles driven and adult pheasants reported by rural mail carriers in 76 counties of Illinois, 1957 and 1958. 

1957 1958 

Category February April August January April August Total 

Miles driven 234,295 190,775 209,330 253,0.55 253,685 251,405 1, 392, .5.38 

Cocks observed 3,972 7,247 1,137 12,171 10,298 1,352 36,177 

Urns ob.served 10,361 9,162 2,4<il 25,622 9,282 2,482 59,371 

liens per cock 2.6 1.3 2.2 2,1 0.9 1.8 1.6 

Cocks p<r 100 miles 1.7 3.8 0.5 4.8 4.0 0.5 2.6 

Hens per 100 miles 4.4 4.8 1.2 10,1 3.7 1.0 4.3 

Pheasants per 100 miles 6.1 8.6 1.7* 14.9 7.7 l.Sf 6.9 

• In additiDii lo adult nhrasanis, 6,7(14 chickj were observed in August, I9.'>7. If llicsc chiclu were included in the counts, the number of pheasants 
ob.sprvcd per I'H) iniU*!, would be 4.9. 

t In addition to adult pheasants, 7,414 chicks were observed in August, 1958. If theM chiclu were included in the counts, the number of pheasants 
observed per KJO miles would be 4.5. 



Fig. 2. — Distribution and abvindancc of pheasants in Illi- 
nois as mapped by townships fioni data obtained thioii!;h a 
rural mail carrier census, February, 1957. Every county in the 
state was included in the February, lO.")?, census. Pheasants 
were not reported in 28 southern counties of Illinois; of these 
28 counties, only Edwards and Wabash were included in sub- 
sequent censuses, figs. 3-7. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 

IHH 100.1 * 

I'.'.'tj 50.1 ■ 100.0 

L' -. I 10.1 50.0 

1^;^ u 10.0 

&'^^lil%J 0.1 ■ 1.0 

^__^ 0.0 

r~ ) UNfltPORrEO 



Fig. 3. — Distribution and abundance of pheasants in Illi- 
nois as mapped by townships from data obtained through a 
rural mail rarrier census, January, 1958. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 
^HB lOOl* 

501-100 

10 1-50 

^^ 11-100 

C'l'X'X':-! 1'l 

00 
UNREPORTED 



Fig. 4. — Distribution and abundance of pheasants in Illi- 
nois as mapped by townships from data obtained through a 
rural mail carrier census, April, 1957. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 





501-100.0 


V////A 
h:.v.M.:| 


1,1-100 
0.1-10 
00 


1 1 


UNREPORTED 



Fig. 5. — Distribution and abundanrc of phrasants in Illi- 
nois as mapprd by townships from data obtained throuKh a 
rural mail carrier census, April, 19.58. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 
HIH 100 1 • 

^_^^ 501-100 

iii'-.inl 10 1-50 

^^^ II-IOO 

^•-•-•-•-'-•-■^ O.I-I.O 

00 
I I UNREPORTED 



Fig. 6. — Distribution and abundance of pheasants in Illi- 
nois as mapped by townships from data obtained through a 
rural mail earner census, August, 1957. 




Pheasants 


PER 100 MILES 


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lOO.i* 


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50.1 ■ 100.0 


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10.1-50.0 


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I.I -10.0 


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0.1 1.0 


^S^ 


0.0 


CZZl 


UNREPORTED 



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Fig. 7. — Distribution and abundanrr of phrasants in Illi- 
nois as mapped by townships from data obtained throui^h a 
rural mail carrier census, August, 1958. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 

BWB looi* 

L'l't'i'j 501-100 

>•■".;, :| 10 1-500 

t^M'M I, .100 

^•-■'•-•-■'•'•i l-l 

00 
I I UNREPORTED 



11 



Fie 8 — Distribution and abundancr of pheasants in Illi- 
nois as^iiappcd by townships from data obtained through rural 
mail carrier censuses, April, 1957 and lOfiB. 




PHEASANTS PER 100 MILES 

[•■■■•■•J 501-100 

L:. . I 10 1-50 

VZSZA n 100 
^»ffl:B^ Olio 

00 
I I UNREPORTED 



12 



licrs in Illinois for small areas (townships) and for any 
one season (winter, spring, or summer). However, be- 
cause the variable factors did not difTer greatly during 
the 2 years of the censuses, they are regarded as having 
little influence on the reliability of the population trends 
that are presented for the Illinois pheasant range as a 
whole. 

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE DATA 

The range of the pheasant in Illinois, as mapped 
by Wagner & Resadny (1958:5). is part of a more or 
less continuous belt of wild populations extending from 
southeastern Wisconsin through northeastern and east- 
central Illinois, northern Indiana, southern Michigan, 
and eastward into Ohio and Pennsylvania, fig. 9. From 
Illinois eastward to the Atlantic Coast, the approximate 
southern limit of the range as reported by ^'eatter 
(1953:7) is marked by the 40th parallel; the 40th par- 
allel can be located in fig. 9 by extending the Kansas- 
Nebraska line eastward. Most of the range occupied by 
pheasants in Illinois is north of the 40th parallel, but 
some pheasants are found south of this line, principally 
in Champaign, Douglas, Vermilion, and Edgar counties. 

Robertson (1958:2-5) traced the early introduction 
of pheasants by private individuals in Illinois back to 
1890 and reported that pheasants were first distributed 
In the state by the Illinois Game Commission (now Illi- 
nois Department of Conservation) in 1906. The early 
optimism of the Illinois legislature in opening the first 
hunting season for pheasants in 1915 reflected the grow- 
ing availability of the bird either from game-farm re- 
leased pheasants or localized wild populations. 

The first map of the distribution of pheasants in 
Illinois and .several other north-central states was com- 
piled by Leopold (19.31:106) from data accumulated 
during 1928 and 1929. A reproduction of the Illinois 
portion of this map, modified to show only the general 
distribution of pheasants, is presented in fig. 10. It is 
apparent from Leopold's map that the earliest establish- 
ment of pheasants on a large scale in Illinois occurred 




ABUNDANCE RATING 

^^M EXCELLENT L'.'.'.'.-l FAIR 

V-'y-'i GOOD I I POOR OR NONE 

Fig. 9. — -Generalized map of the distribution and relative 
abundance of pheasants in the north-central states in the 19,5n's 
(after Wagner & Besadny 1958; 5). 



OlSTRIBUTrON Of PHEASANTS 
1929 

■mm ESTABLISHEO RANGE 
irm SCATTEHING OR 

INDETERMINATE 

RANGE 



Fig. 10. — Distribution 
and abundance of pheasants 
in Illinoi.s, 1929 (modified 
from Leopold 1931:106). 




COCKS KILLED PER HUNTER 
1937 




Fig. 11. — ■ Distribution 
and abundance of pheasants 
in Illinois as mapped from 
data obtained from license- 
stub questionnaires distrib- 
uted to hunters during the 
1937 hunting season (after 
Carl O. Mohr unpublished 



13 



COGKS KILLED PER HUNTER 
1946 

t'-*-'-1 21 AND OVER 
llllllllllll I.I TO 2 

rrrz^ 01 TO I 

I I LESS THAN 



Fig. 12. — Distribution 
and abundance of pheasants 
in Illinois as indicated by 
posthunting season question- 
naires for the 1948 hunting 
season (after Robertson 
1958:9). 




HARVEST OF COCK PHEAS 
1950 

flV^ BEST 

AVERAGE 

LIGHT f^^'' — V-"- 

FEW OR NONE 



'iim^m 



Fig. 13. — Distribution ' 
and abundance of pheasants 
in Illinois as mapped from 
data obtained from license- 
stub questionnaires distrib- 
uted to hunters during the 
1950 hunting season (after 
Marquardt & Scott 1952: 
5). 




in the northeastern counties in the 1920's. That pheas- 
ants were not common during the 1920's in the area 
described by Leopold as "scattering" or "indeterminate" 
range was substantiated by Robertson (1958:10), who 
cited the records of amateur ornithologists active in east- 
central Illinois at that time. 

Pheasants became increasingly common in eas;- 
central Illinois during the early 1930's. Yeatter [in 
Robertson 1958:10) indicated that pheasants were 
"relatively well established" in Champaign and adja- 
cent counties by 1934. Mohr's data (unpublished) 
based on the number of cocks killed per hunter per 
county indicated that less than 15 per cent of the 
hunters residing in the southern and western counties 
of Illinois were successful in bagging at least one cock 
pheasant each in 1937, whereas 58-68 per cent of the 
hunters residing in certain counties of northeastern and 
east-central Illinois bagged at least one cock each dur- 
ing the same hunting season. Mohr's map of the pheas- 
ant kill, fig. 11, shows some westward and southward 
extension of the pheasant range and the establishment 
of a center of abundance in Ford and Livingston 
counties of east-central Illinois. 

Maps prepared by Robertson (1958:9) for 1948, 
fig. 12, and by Marquardt & Scott (1952:5) for 1950, 
fig. 13, from hunters' reports show patterns of distribu- 
tion of pheasants somewhat similar to those indicated 
by Leopold and Mohr, but the centers of abundance in 
northeastern and east-central Illinois show better de- 
lineation than the earlier maps. They show the southern 
and the central western counties of the state still unoccu- 
pied by pheasants and indicate the existence of a small 
center of abundance of birds in Stephenson Coimty of 
northwestern Illinois, a population not evident on 
Mohr's 1937 map. 

In Illinois, the six roadside counts by rural mail 
carriers in 1957 and 1958 were averaged in order to 
rank 74 of the state's 102 coimties with respect to their 
relative abundance of pheasants. The ranking was 
based on the mean number of pheasants observed per 
100 miles in each county during the six mail carrier 
censuses, fig. 14. Livingston County ranked highest 
with 75.2 pheasants per 100 miles. No piieasants were 
observed in 28 southern counties of the state during the 
February, 1957, census, and these counties were classed 
as nonphcasant range. However, pheasants were re- 
leased ('x]3enmentally in Wabash and Edwards counties 
sulisetiuent to the Fobruarv, 1957, census. Between 30 
and 40 per cent of all ])heasants reported during each 
of the six roadside counts were observed in Ford and 
Livingston counties. 

.\ composite map basetl on the data collected by 
iiual mail carriers in Illinois during the breeding sea- 
sons in .\i)ril, 1957 and 1958, is presented in fig. 8: 
these April coimts best represent the distribution and 
abundance of the population of pheasants available for 
reproduction. The iiighest counts reported by nnal mail 
carriers weie fioni townsliips in soulheaslern Livingston 



14 



ABUNDANCE OF PHEASANTS 
1957.68 



COUNTY RANK 

MEAN NUMBER OF PHEASANTS 

PER 100 MILES 




Fig. 14. — Abundance v-, 
of pheasants in Illinois by 
counties. Counties are 
ranked in order of abun- 
dance of pheasants. Data 
were obtained from six rural 
mail carrier censuses con- 
ducted in 1957 and 1958. 



INDICES OF PHEASANT 
ABUNDANCE 
1957-1960 

Q-LOCATION OF CENSUS ROUTE 

Key (Eiomple: Chompolgn Counly) 
16= 1957 
38. 1958 
34= 1969 
20= I960 



Fig. 15. — Distribution 
and abundance of pheasants 
in selected Illinois census 
areas as indicated by popu- 
lation indices based on win- 
ter sex ratios and spring 
counts of cock calls, 1957- 
1960 (after William L. 
Preno unpublished). Index 
numbers for each census 
area read from top to bot- 
tom, 1957 through 1960. 




County and adjacent portions of Ford County. Detailed 
ecological studies on a township-sized study area in this 
region indicated that pheasants numbered 63, 80, and 
88 birds per square mile in January, 1957 and 1958, 
and February, 1960, respectively. Pheasants declined in 
numbers in all directions from the nucleus of abundance 
in Ford and Livingston counties; this decline was most 
apparent to the southwest. 

The rural mail carrier counts showed some po]jula- 
tions of pheasants, usually of low levels, outside the 
boundaries of the contiguous range, fig. 8. Some of 
these outlying populations have persisted for many years. 
One such population, greater in numbers and more per- 
sistent than other outlying populations, is located in 
Logan and Tazewell counties. A small population of 
pheasants has existed in Bond County, about 40 miles 
east of St. Louis, for many years, and most of the 
township distribution maps in this report indicate the 
presence of an isolated population of pheasants where 
Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren coun- 
ties in western Illinois come into close pro.ximity. 'I'he 
extent to which these small, persistent populations arc 
maintained through periodic releases of pheasants by 
private individuals or agencies is not known. Some ol 
the pheasants observed by rural mail carriers in Cum- 
berland, and probably all of the pheasants reported in 
Edwards and Wabash counties, which are south of the 
contiguous range currently occupied by pheasants in 



MEAN NUMBER 
OF COCKS KILLED 
PER SQUARE MILE 
1957-1959 

^■1 610-100 

61 0-60.0 

410-60,0 

210-400 

10-20 

LESS THAN 

OR NONE 



Fig. 16. — Distribution I 
and abundance of pheasants 
in Illinois as mapped from 
data obtained from post- 
hunting season question- 
Mains distributed to hunters 
during the 1957, 1958, and 
1959 hunting seasons (aft'T 
William L. Preno unpub- 
lished). 




15 



Illinois, were birds liberated on experimental areas by 
the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois De- 
partment of Conservation, or progeny of these birds. 

Abundance data based on winter sex ratios and 
spring counts of cock calls during the 4-year period, 
1957-1960, fig. 15, substantiate fairly well the distribu- 
tional and abundance data reported by rural mail 
carriers, fig. 8. The highest population indices were in 
Ford and Livingston counties, a finding that supports 
other observations that the center of greatest abundance 
of pheasants in Illinois is located in this east-central 
area. 

Preno's estimates of the kill of cocks per square mile 
for the 3-year period, 1957-1959, estimates based on 
postcard questionnaires, appear to be high, fig. 16. The 
percentages of cocks harvested on a township-sized area 
in Ford County, near the junction of Livingston and 
McLean counties, during the same 3 years were calcu- 
lated to be 20, 57, and 66 per cent, respectively: these 
data were based on changes between the prehunt and 
posthunt sex ratios (no allowances were made for illegal 
kill of hens). Harvest statistics by individual counties, 
on which fig. 16 is based, show a kill of 62, 129, and 93 
cocks per square mile in Ford County for 1957, 1958. 
and 1959, respectively. The application of the number 
representing the proportion of cocks harvested, as indi- 
cated by changes in sex ratios, to the estimated kill of 



cocks per square mile would yield prehunt estimates of 
310, 226. and 140 cocks per square mile. However, the 
prehimt population on the township area mentioned 
above was estimated to be 47 cocks per square mile in 
November. 1957. and the abundance of pheasants in thb 
township is considered to be as high as. or nearly as high 
as, that in the remainder of Ford County, fig. 8. Even 
though most county estimates of the kill of cocks are 
probably too high, these kill statistics tend to confirm 
the patterns of distribution and abundance previously 
presented in this report. 

SUMMARY 

Pheasants first established self-maintaining popula- 
tions in several northeastern counties of Illinois during 
the 1920's. They spread westward and southward and 
had established a center of abundance in Livingston and 
Ford counties in east-central Illinois by the late 1930's, 
a center that has persisted through the 1940's and 
1950's. Small areas of abundance existed in northeastern 
Illinois and in Stephenson Countv- of northwestern Illi- 
nois in the late 1940's; some of these areas of abundance 
have persisted but at lower population levels. Pheasants 
have never established self-maintaining populations in 
the central western and southern counties of Illinois, 
except in a few small areas where populations exist at 
low levels of abundance. 



LITERATURE CITED 



Aldrich, John W., and Allen J. Duvall 

1955. Distribution of American gallinaceous game birds. 
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Serv. Circ. 34. 30 pp. 

Carney, Samuel M., and George A. Petrides 

1957. Analysis of variation among participants in pheasant 
cock-crowing censuses. Jour. Wildlife Me;t. 21(4): 
392-7. 

Greeley, Frederick 

1960. The ring-necked pheasant. Pp. 28 9 in .^tlas of Illi- 
nois resources, Sec. 3: Forest, wildlife, and recrea- 
tional resources. Division of Industrial Planning and 
Development, Illinois Department of Registration 
and Education, Springfield. 48 pp. 

Kimball, James W. 

1949. The crowing count pheasant census. Jour. Wildlife 
Mgt. 13(l):101-20. 

Kimball, James W., Edward L. Kozicky, and Bernard A. Nelson 

1956. Pheasants of the plains and prairies. Pp. 204 63 in 
Pheasants in North .Aiiicrira ( Durward L. .Mien, 
Editor). Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 
and Wildlife Management Institute, Washington, 
D. c;. 490 pp. 

Kozicky, F.dward L. 

1952. Variations in two spring indices of male ring-necked 
pheasant populations. Jour. Wildlife Mgt. 16(4): 
429 37. 

Leopold, Aide 

1931. Report on a game survey of the North Central states. 
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' In- 
stitute, Madison, Wisconsin. 299 pp. 



MacMullan, Ralph A. 

1960. Michigan pheasant populations. Game Division Re- 
port 2277. Michigan Department of Conservation, 
Lansing. 169 pp. 

Marquardt, William C, and Thomas G. Scott 

1952. It's in the bag. 111. Wildlife 7(2):4-5. 

McCabe, Robert A., Ralph A. MacMullan, 
and Eugene H. Dustman 

1956. Ringneck pheasants in the Great Lakes region. Pp. 
264-356 in Pheasants in North .\merica (Durward 
L. .'\llen, Editor). Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Penn- 
sylvania, and Wildlife Management Institute, W.ish- 
in<_;ton, D. C. 490 pp. 

Robertson, William B., Jr. 

1958. Investigations of ring-necked pheasants in Illinois 
111. Dept. Cons. Tech^ Bui. 1. 137 pp. 

Wagner, Fred H., and C. D. Bcsadny 

1958. Factors in Wisconsin pheasant production. Wis. 
Cons. Bui. 23(12):3-I3. 

Walcott, Frederic C. 

1945. Historical introduction. Pp. 1-5 in The ring-necked 
pheasant and its management in North .\mrrica 
(W. L. Me.Vtee, Editor). .Vmcrican W'ildlife Insti- 
tute, Washington, D. C. 320 pp. 

Ycalter, Ralph E. 

1943. The prairie chicken in Illinois. III. Nat. Hist. Sur\'. 
Bui. 22(41:377-416. 

1953. Air temperature affects pheasant range. III. Wildlife 
9(l):[6-7]. 



16 




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