by John Palarski
Our nesting season got off to a hot start here in Erath County! To date, we have located 25 nests. So far south Texas birds have initiated and/or incubated more nests than our west Texas birds (n = 15 south Texas, n = 9 west Texas), but we began May 1 with almost twice as many South Texas birds (35) as from west Texas (19). We’ve had 4 hatches and 6 nests have been either depredated or abandoned. These abandonments are often the result of partial depredations. Interestingly, we’ve had two males incubate nests thus far. Although this isn’t too unusual, it is a sign of good conditions and hopefully a positive omen for us during the remainder of the nesting season.
Additionally, we are tracking 59 individuals on property. Site fidelity has been “good” thus far (see figure), and only 10 individuals have dispersed off property and not returned. Survival has been “normal” throughout May, and we are not seeing any differences between source population.
We started our spring whistle counts on May 16. So far, our counts are encouraging. This year, we are averaging 1.59 roosters/stop. This average would be considered “low” for many locations, but we find it encouraging. We have 8 calling stations spread across the ranch, and many birds have not dispersed to the perimeter calling stations. One of our calling stations (MM4), located at the release point, is averaging 7 roosters/stop! It’s worth mentioning that in 2019 (year 1) we averaged only 0.44 roosters/stop. We love to see the improvement! We will continue to conduct call counts until the middle of June.