From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission


Roasted Turkey with Mulberry Sauce

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It’s Wild Game Wednesday!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so that means this week’s Wild Game Wednesday could feature only one thing: TURKEY! Keep this recipe in mind if you have extra wild turkey you’d like to use throughout the holiday.

On Wild Game Wednesday, we take a moment to recognize one of the most important reasons people take to the woods and fields to hunt: to fill their freezers with types of fresh, organic meat. These regular posts include delicious, easy and seasonal wild game recipes from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Game Cookbook that you and your family can prepare. Let us know if you try this recipe. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Wild Turkey

If you are interested in more wild game recipes submitted by people from around Pennsylvania, visit www.theoutdoorshop.state.pa.us//FBG/game/GameProductSelect.asp?catid=BKS to purchase the second edition of the cookbook for less than $10!

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Hummingbird Visitors this Winter?

Rufous Hummingbird by Sandy Lockerman

Rufous Hummingbird.

As colder weather arrives in Pennsylvania, energetic little visitors from the west may be arriving in our state. Several species of hummingbirds that normally spend the winter in the southern United States and Central America are now being recorded in the eastern United States, as stray individuals are migrating in a different direction than expected. Scientists are studying these birds by capturing and banding them when possible, in order to better understand what may be driving this notable behavior pattern. 

Colorful hummingbirds, such as Rufous Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, Black-Chinned Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird are showing up in people’s backyards and taking advantage of sugar water feeders left hanging, long after our native-nesting Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have departed. These diminutive birds are adapted to handle cold weather, and supplement their diet with small insects and spiders that they find on plants. 

An excellent summary of the “Wintering Western Hummingbird” phenomenon in Pennsylvania may be found on the eBird citizen science page for our state.

If you or someone you know has a hummingbird show up in their yard this fall or winter, you are encouraged to contact one of the five certified hummingbird researchers who are based in Pennsylvania:

 Scott Weidensaul, scottweidensaul@verizon.net.

Sandy Lockerman, sandylockerman@yahoo.com.

Bob Mulvihill, robert.mulvihill@gmail.com.

Wayne Laubscher, wnlaubscher@comcast.net.

David Hauber, haubers3@penn.com.

Male Rufous1

Male Rufous


Join the Fun of Pheasant Hunting

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The cackling of a rooster exploding from heavy cover. The ringing of a bell as the dog runs through a grassy field. The satisfying sound of a shotgun’s action closing. The scent of fall emanating from the uplands. These sensory experiences are all part of pheasant hunting, and what so many hunters in the Keystone State look forward to each fall.

Bob Boyd, the head of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife Services Division, is the manager of the pheasant propagation and stocking program. With five decades of pheasant hunting experience, he also enjoys the challenge of pursuing these birds on the same public lands that we all hunt.

Here are four of his top tips for a productive pheasant hunting experience:

1. Hunt Heavier Cover

Although they are often associated with fields and grasslands, pheasants are adapted to seek out thicker cover in wetlands, thickets, and swamps when trying to hide from danger. Whether hiding from a hawk or a human hunter, a pheasant will try hard to tuck into the thickest cover that is available. Most hunters, and their dogs, will thoroughly comb the open fields in their search for pheasants. In order to find more birds, you should consider checking out the heavier cover near these fields to find the pheasants that have escaped the early waves of predator pressure.

2. Work the Edges

Much like hunting heavy cover, the strategy of hunting the edges is all about understanding pheasants’ tendencies to prefer traveling in habitat that affords it the best protection from predators. Hedgerows, ditches, weedy fencelines and powerline cuts all make for excellent places for pheasants to evade pressure. Seek these places out and be creative in how you work through the habitat. Posting a stander or two at the end of a line of cover is a proven tactic for getting pheasants to flush rather than continuing to run.

3. Stop and Start

Speaking of running, a pheasant prefers to run, walk, creep or hide over being forced to fly. Flying is the last resort when all other options are eliminated. Hunters that walk steadily through cover are often passing right by birds that are hunkered down and hiding. The bird hears or sees exactly where you are and relies on stealth to remain undetected— sometimes evading even the best dogs’ noses. But if you practice stopping and starting your movement through cover, the birds will often get nervous and flush because they think you have spotted them. Many hunters learn this the hard way by stopping at the end of the field. With guns on their shoulder and statement of “I guess there were no birds here,” a nervous pheasant suddenly launches from vegetation nearby and flies away unharmed.

4. Keep A Hunting Log

If you are fortunate to get out and hunt multiple days throughout the season – after all, it does run more than four months – you could benefit from keeping a record of what you observe while afield. A simple hunting log where you keep notes (of the location hunted, number of birds observed, and number of other hunters seen afield) will be a valuable resource to consult when planning future hunts. The most important insight may be discovering what days the pheasants are typically stocked, by noticing the patterns in stocking timetables year to year. If you discover that the birds are stocked on your local game lands on a Wednesday during the first full week of the season, you may want to head out mid-week during the first week during the following season. The heaviest hunting pressure comes on Saturdays, with Fridays being the second-busiest days for hunter activity on stocked game lands. If your log is able to help you pinpoint a key time to be afield on a week day, you may well be rewarded for your efforts.

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NEW Interactive 2018 Pheasant Allocation Map

To increase awareness of where and when pheasants will be stocked, the Game Commission publishes an allocations table and interactive stocking locations map for pheasant hunters to visit.

Select a region to see the number of male and female pheasants to be stocked in each county for each release, as well as the range of dates for each release, and a listing of each property to be stocked.

Click on the interactive map of pheasant stocking locations to see the more than 200 properties that are planned to be stocked. Click on a pheasant icon to see the property name, the number of releases and total birds released last year to get an idea of large versus small release areas. Users can zoom in to see pink highlighted areas representing areas of best pheasant hunting habitat where birds are most likely to be found.

Click here to watch this year’s Pheasant Permit Video on YouTube.

We wish all pheasant hunters a safe and successful season. With four-and-a-half months of hunting opportunity, more than two hundred stocking locations statewide, and nearly a quarter-million pheasants in the field, there are lots of great hunting memories waiting to be made.

Don’t forget, tag us in your pheasant hunting photos using #pheasanthuntpa!

 


Lessen the Odds of a Bird/Window Collision at Your Home

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Photo credit: Jacob Dingel.

“Thud.”

Your stomach sinks and heart races as you approach the window to see what beautiful bird hit it this time. It’s autumn and birds are on the move to warmer climates.

Bird/window collisions are a common occurrence this time of year. Many times the birds will appear stunned, and will fly away. Unfortunately, many of the birds that fly away from window strikes have likely sustained some sort of damage from the collision and may not survive.

If you’re hoping there’s something you can do to help lessen the odds of a bird flying into your window, good news, there is!

The American Bird Conservancy has compiled excellent information on this topic, including strategies to prevent your windows from reflecting the sky and trees. These reflections are what confuses the birds. To them, they see a nice perch in the distance, only to blindly be stopped short by a window pane. “Thud.”

As you enjoy the phenomena of bird migration this fall, check out these science-based solutions to prevent window collisions – many of which were developed by Pennsylvania ornithologists.

Millions of birds pass through Penn’s Woods in spring and fall during migration, including several Species of Greatest Conservation Need identified in Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan. These birds face many obstacles along their journey. Each of us can make a difference at our own houses to make their trip a bit easier.

-Cathy Haffner, Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Biologist