Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Heavy rainfall concerns this month

Wow! what a month for moisture. So far this month we have had 3 times the amount of rain as normal for the whole month. The weather forecast says today is about the end to this trend for the month. Hopefully we will be back to normal from here on.

I've been getting lots of request on my thoughts about all this rain and it's effects on the chukar hatch. I've done lot's of reading and kept lot's of notes of observations of chukar populations but sadly haven't kept notes of rainfall amounts in June for each year. If anyone could possibly tell me how to find the average rainfall amount in June for the past 30 years I could come up with a little more positive answer to how much the spring rains effect the outcome for the coming seasons.

Even with the heavy rainfalls we have had I know we are better off than drought conditions. On dry years many of the birds don't even try to nest. The vegetation and insects are not there to produce healthy conditions for reproduction, so on drought years you will see many small coveys of birds in the spring instead of pairs. Spring rains produce lot's of green up and insects which are the main ingredients for good chick survival. This June has provided plenty of that. Chicks that have survived so far or that haven't hatched yet should have an abundance of feed for the remainder of the summer months. Conditions from here out should be optimum for survival. A rain or two in July and August might help conditions even more but won't be necessary for what could be a good year.

With that being said, I'll give my thoughts of what might happen. First of all, although most articles say the mean time for chukar/hun hatching is about June 10, I believe it occurs later in the month. My only reason for thinking that is from observations of size of birds in late July and early August. I raised chukars for a couple of years and "think" I can judge age pretty well from their size and flight ability. If I am right, than the most hatches are just beginning. The hatches that have already happened and have been lost have plenty of time for the hen to renest and still have good number of eggs to hatch. These spring conditions have produced prime nutrients for hens to reproduce plenty of eggs for a second hatch. The second hatch from these hens will probably be as good as the first one where on a normal weather year the egg numbers may be smaller.

Chukars and huns are resilient nesters and will keep trying to nest as long as conditions are right. I believe it is a myth that they will nest two or three times and raise separate broods. I think they will only have a second brood if they lose all their chicks. It's not possible to raise chicks and sit a nest at the same time so they will have only one brood per year. But on normal years with moisture almost all hens are reproducing instead of just a portion of them on drought years and they will keep on trying until successful or it's too late. That is why we sometimes see birds so young clear into late October.

I haven't been able to get out and locate chukar and hun nests this Spring because of my lack of mobility but I have been able to drive the roads and observe the bigger birds(turkey) and find a few of their nest for observation. I found five nests and the earliest of them hatched May 23rd and the latest was just five days ago. Two of the nest were destroyed by predators which I believe is definitely harder on nest than rain. I can't speak of survival of the chicks because of my inability to get out and observe little ones feeding with the mom nor do I want to take a chance of disturbing them on these wet days. I do believe that the other upland birds are two to three weeks behind turkeys in the hatch so that would place hatch times from mid June on.

I have no biological facts to say I'm right but I really believe June rains don't hurt the numbers as much as I use to. These heavy rains had to have hurt some but not as much as I once feared. Keep thinking positive. I do know that we will at least have a normal year. Every down year that I can recall has been preceded by a dry spring and summer. Hopefully this will be a banner year and we will learn a little more about chukar/hun reproduction conditions.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the views and information. Well done.
Alan,Gracie,and the new setter Piper.

Unknown said...

I was told by a Nevada Upland Bird biologist some years ago that if a hen Chukar had any eggs hatch she would not renest if all the hatchlings died of exposure. If the nest was destroyed by preditors prior to hatching she may renest. Can you confirm any of this?

Tuckers Chukars said...

I do know for a fact that in both cases the hen will renest. It only takes one chick to survive to keep her from trying to nest again. When there are survivors the hens remaining days until fall are raising the chicks and can't lay and sit a nest while doing this. Chukars are persistent nesters and once there nest have been destroyed or ALL of her chicks have died from exposure or predators she will try and nest again.

steve said...
Steve fm Pocy

Tuckers Chukars said...

Thanks Steve. I've been trying to find this info for a couple of weeks without success. For quite a ways back there hasn't been anything close to the amount of precipitation we have had this June. Looks like come hunting season we might learn a little more about rainy weather and chukars. It's gonna be green for quite a while. I took the boys for a short jaunt and there hoppers everywhere.

Chukarhunter50 said...

from my past 22 years doing surveys on chukar hatches. dry conditions are the worse. 2004 2005 were high carryover and high hatch count years. both years had very wet May, 2.39" and 3.96" and close to normal June moisture. only difference was those years were somewhat warmer rains.

this year we had very good fall winter conditions for females and strong positive nesting conditions. it will be interesting to see how the May 25th-June 17th cool 2-3 day spurts of heavy rain affected the 1st hatch. agree any chicks now will have a lot of bugs. I saw 10, 7 day old baby quail during those pouring rain days and mom dad and kids were chasing bugs and looked ok

like you, from past history and my surveys, this year should be decent at worst. I think some areas could be fantastic and some average. Mark

Tuckers Chukars said...

Thanks Mark. It will be interesting to see what you find later into the summer.

Unknown said...

I was just looking at the weather fir Jordan Valley and it said rain and low in the 40's tommorow. How old do the chicks have to be to survive that.
Jeff Bennett

Dave s said...

Larry, monthly rainfall totals from 1940.

Tuckers Chukars said...

Thanks Dave. Looking through all that information makes this June look like one of the wettest ever. Jeff, about four days of age they have enough downy feathers to protect them from most rains. After about a week they can withstand most of everything. Today, June 29th is putting down a pretty good amount of cold precipitation again. This year is going to test theories about chick survival and moisture.