Bob,

 

Concerning trees, perch trees are one thing but if I remember some conversations with MDC personnel I believe that roost trees were also a desired, important factor. 

 

As for Dunn ranch specifically, the following is from one of my postings in April 2008.   

 

  “We talked with Brent extensively and with ____ Hoover there at Dunn Ranch.  We commented on the lack of nesting habitat near the blind and lek.  Basically, the field past the lek in which the blind is facing is being converted to warm season grasses.   They have had it in soybeans for two years (to knock out the fescue) and are now ready convert it.  The birds at Dunn ranch, and at other locations in the state, that have radio collars are not staying at only one lek.  One day they are at a specific lek, the next day maybe a different one.  I am assuming that the numbers are down at the observation blind because of the less than desirable nesting area nearby/ lack of hens.  We were told that they are aware of other leks in the area.  It was also emphasized how mobile these birds really are.

    I don't know whether that was sufficient or reasonable enough but that is the basic story I gathered from them.”

 

 

As far as foxes and bobcats being down in number, I am doubtful.  I personally am seeing more in recent years and the calls to my taxidermy business would confirm this.

 

Terry L. Miller

Kearney HS

Clay Co., MO

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From: Missouri Wild Bird Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Bob Fisher
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 9:13 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Prairie Chickens - predation

 

One post mentioned that trees provide perches for avian predators but said that chickens can tolerate some trees. Otherwise, I believe Edge is right that there has been no mention of predators, and they may be an important factor.

 

I once flushed a hen Greater Prairie Chicken off a nest of a dozen eggs while walking Taberville Prairie for Henslow's Sparrows. I found the nest only because she exploded almost from under my feet. The nest was in thick tall grass, not the kind of stuff I would expect most of the predators Edge mentioned to be wandering about in. Without having done any research, I have the feeling that chickens can protect themselves pretty well in their native habitat.  I'm not sure how vulnerable the adults are when they forage on neighboring farmland or whether Edge's idea that the same number of predators that formerly existed in a larger area would now be present in a smaller area. Certainly dogs and cats are a new addition. I suspect that bobcat and fox numbers are down,  while coyotes may be more numerous than previously. I speculate that the chickens' greatest adversay may be the Great Horned Owl, and there may be more of them around now than in prehistoric times.

 

If someone knows the answers, I'd be interested to learn them.

 

Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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