Dead pheasants: roadkill

allanpcameron

Well-known member
I drove from Glasgow to Forfar yesterday, and especially between Perth and Stirling the roadside was littered with dead pheasants, mostly males, I counted at least 30. I saw one live one feeding on the grass beside the road. Is it the trajectory of flight that leads so many to be killed by cars? I've never seen one being run over. Could it be headlights at dawn? Any ideas? What must it do the population?
 

Mike Price

Well-known member
I drove from Glasgow to Forfar yesterday, and especially between Perth and Stirling the roadside was littered with dead pheasants, mostly males, I counted at least 30. I saw one live one feeding on the grass beside the road. Is it the trajectory of flight that leads so many to be killed by cars? I've never seen one being run over. Could it be headlights at dawn? Any ideas? What must it do the population?


The population is in no danger from road kill as approximately 35 million pheasants are released to be shot each year.
 

Adam W

Well-known member
Its not so much the flight but the fact they prefer to run, As fast as they can run its still not fast enough to avoid the cars.
I wonder how many are run over each year, ive read that50,000 Badgers are ran over each year so it must be millions of Pheasants.
 

Kits

Picture Picker
Round here they appear to wander across roads at will, with no attention to on-coming traffic. I have seen a few hit by cars where the bird has simply suddenly walked out from the hedgerows.
 

MJB

Well-known member
I drove from Glasgow to Forfar yesterday, and especially between Perth and Stirling the roadside was littered with dead pheasants, mostly males, I counted at least 30. I saw one live one feeding on the grass beside the road. Is it the trajectory of flight that leads so many to be killed by cars? I've never seen one being run over. Could it be headlights at dawn? Any ideas? What must it do the population?

Luc Schifferli, then a co-director of Vogelwarte Sempach near Lucerne, when on a six-month sabbatical at the BTO almost 20 years ago, took on the additional task of estimating Common Pheasant roadkill on paved roads with cycling distance of Thetford. He checked roadside verges within, I think, 5 metres of the road, over a three-month period. I seem to remember he came up with a figure of one pheasant fatality for every 11.5 metres of road, which in pheasant-releasing areas, doesn't seem unlikely.

Anyone driving in rural Norfolk is more than likely to have hit a pheasant. On a short trip of about 20 miles today, there were at least two flat pheasants per mile visible from the driver's position. The Carrion Crows were wary of approaching vehicles - pheasants rarely are and often double back into harm's way.
MJB
 
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Geoff Brown

Well-known member
They just blithely wander around on the roads, usually quite oblivious to oncoming vehicles until it is far too late to avoid being killed!!:gn:
 

Wildmoreway

Well-known member
I seem to remember some years back reading an article that said that there is a selective breeding process to produce stupid pheasants that are easier targets for the shooters.
 

Twite

Well-known member
I drove from Glasgow to Forfar yesterday, and especially between Perth and Stirling the roadside was littered with dead pheasants, mostly males, I counted at least 30. I saw one live one feeding on the grass beside the road. Is it the trajectory of flight that leads so many to be killed by cars? I've never seen one being run over. Could it be headlights at dawn? Any ideas? What must it do the population?

There's always more pheasants killed on the road in the Spring. They are driven by hormones, this makes them 'less careful' as they have only thing in mind. Were they all or mostly male? Edit. re-read it and see they were. It has little effect on populations as males mate with many females and don't bother with parental duties.

Male blackbirds are common road-kill victims this time of year too, roads are common territorial boundaries. They're often caught off guard by traffic as they dispute these boundaries.

I seem to remember some years back reading an article that said that there is a selective breeding process to produce stupid pheasants that are easier targets for the shooters.

Would be interested in any sources you can find to back this up. Most if not all driven shoots would prefer more challenging, fast, high-flying birds.
 
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Robin Edwards

Well-known member
It would also be interesting to learn what effect the significant supply of road-kill carrion from Pheasant has on populations of natural scavenging species such as corvids, Buzzard & Magpie.

I found a road-kill Buzzard very recently that had been killed whilst feeding on a road-kill Muntjac.
 

MJB

Well-known member
I seem to remember some years back reading an article that said that there is a selective breeding process to produce stupid pheasants that are easier targets for the shooters.

If I were to judge solely by the behaviour of shooters who were firing across a public footpath where there were walkers, or those who 'tracked' woodpigeons before firing across the flightpath when there was a Nimrod on short finals, I would hazard that another selective breeding programme had had the same effect...:eek!:
MJB:t:
 

MJB

Well-known member
It would also be interesting to learn what effect the significant supply of road-kill carrion from Pheasant has on populations of natural scavenging species such as corvids, Buzzard & Magpie.
I found a road-kill Buzzard very recently that had been killed whilst feeding on a road-kill Muntjac.

Common Kestrel and Red Kite also scavenge road-kill in Europe.

In Australia, road-kill largely comprises kangaroo (various species), cattle (vast areas of unfenced stock) and feral camels, none of which is a welcome passenger via the windscreen; this carrion is a prime cause of the spread of several Australian corvids and is the source of significant mortality of Wedge-tailed Eagles, whose ability to 'scramble' after gorging is severely impaired. All these casualties have also resulted in significant human fatallities and serious injuries.
MJB
PS Vehicle rental agreements in Oz usually have a clause stating that collision with animals after dusk and before dawn invalidates all insurance...:eek!:
 

LabradorDuck

Well-known member
I once saw a flattened Pheasant in the parking lot of McDonald's. It looked like it had fallen off the front of a car.
 

Bird_Bill

Well-known member
I once saw a flattened Pheasant in the parking lot of McDonald's. It looked like it had fallen off the front of a car.

Wasnt me. Golden that (it/I) ran into on Interstate 55 was imbeded in headlamp. Was disposed of in waste container. Those things have little pheasant cell phones they're peroccupied with when they jump around like that? Was first golden pheasant encountered, no way that it could be put on "life list". Was cognizant of "threat" afterwards, and still a couple close calls in same area where they're released for hunting.
 

Wildmoreway

Well-known member
Would be interested in any sources you can find to back this up. Most if not all driven shoots would prefer more challenging, fast, high-flying birds.
I don't remember where and it was quite while back, I don't think it was in the context of traditional driven shoots and that it came from a shooter who was bemoaning something that was occuring in some highly commercial operation in order to service the casual market from city oafs with little skill shootingwise but loadsa money.
 

Wildmoreway

Well-known member
If I were to judge solely by the behaviour of shooters who were firing across a public footpath where there were walkers, or those who 'tracked' woodpigeons before firing across the flightpath when there was a Nimrod on short finals, I would hazard that another selective breeding programme had had the same effect...:eek!:
MJB:t:
From many years of travel on the railway back in the 1970s you would almost without fail observe that shooters near the railway had "broken" their guns whilst the train was in the passing, the practice of "breaking" guns when the gun might be potentially a danger to third parties seem to have died out in many places.
 

Wildmoreway

Well-known member
It would also be interesting to learn what effect the significant supply of road-kill carrion from Pheasant has on populations of natural scavenging species such as corvids, Buzzard & Magpie.

I found a road-kill Buzzard very recently that had been killed whilst feeding on a road-kill Muntjac.
Buzzards were regularly killed on the marches railway line between Crewe and Newport whilst scavenging railkills, indeed that is what happened to one of the first Buzzrds that was observed on the line some 20 years ago north of Shrewsbury at Yorton, its remains ended up by the buffers of platform 9 at Liverpool Lime Street Station having been removed from the front gangway of a Class 158 train.
 

Mike in Cumbria

Well-known member
I seem to remember some years back reading an article that said that there is a selective breeding process to produce stupid pheasants that are easier targets for the shooters.

Sounds like an urban myth.

How would it work anyway? A pheasant that is an easy target for the shooters is hardly going to live through the shooting season and pass its genes on.
 

crabplover

Well-known member
When I worked in a depot in South Essex, a lorry driver turned up with a Male Pheasant hanging from his cracked windscreen. The bird struck the glass, its bill went straight through the screen and wedged solid.
This was a 38ton articulated truck, so the screen was very large & thick (and expensive)

Andy.
 

Tideliner

Well-known member
Originally Posted by speckled wood
I seem to remember some years back reading an article that said that there is a selective breeding process to produce stupid pheasants that are easier targets for the shooters.

I doubt it the article you read was correct. On a driven shoot the aim is to provide a testing shot and low easy birds are not shot at. Just look at the game farm adverts for pheasant chicks\poults in any shooting magazine. They all boast some high flying strain of birds.

Mind you some form of selection could be happening if the low flying birds are not shot. They would pass their genes on when breeding in the wild for more low flying young. To counter this many shoots have a walk around to try and clear up these low flying birds at the end of the season.

I do not think pheasants could be called stupid. They are a large ground dwelling bird for which flying costs a lot of energy so they would rather walk than fly out of the way of a car. As a percentage of the population I doubt if any more moorhens are run over than pheasants. I onced carried out a survey along a 300 m streach of A road and found 156 dead bird birds , mainly on the grass kirb rather than flattened on the road including finches and house sparrows that suffered badly during harvest time when they few on spilt gran on the road, barn owls plus I found tawny owls, LS woodpecker , partridges , robins , a lot of blackbirds , song thrush and quite a few wood pigeons. Its just that pheasants are more noticable.

I had a chaffinch i ringed found in the grill of a lorry that had just travelled down from Scotland to my home town, so how far had it travelled ? probably only a few miles.
 
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