Friday, February 5, 2010

Upland Game Birds

This is paved County Road 2 in GriggsDakota. With daily snowfall, it is impossible to keep bare and dry. The February sun is getting stronger every day, so if the clouds would move out the sunshine would to help clear this black top road.
 Minimum or no maintenance roads are field access roads and used by farmers from spring through harvest. Townships try to keep them passable during the season and will occasionally fill deep mud holes. These trails are impassible in winter because they are never plowed to remove snow.
I encountered some traffic on the trail the other day. Roads in GriggsDakota are important to man, beast and birds in the deep of winter.
There were birds eating and they were not very afraid of my pickup as it approached. They would fly a short distance, then land in the ditch. The birds wanted to stay close to the road which led me to surmise that they are hungry. They are gleaning grain from the roadside that has blown off trucks hauling to market.
I believe most people would call these grouse, but the experts classify several types of grouse in North Dakota. This link helps to identify upland game birds. Most hunters would classify pinnated grouse as prairie chickens.
To casual observers grouse, pheasants, partridge, and other upland game birds are all referred to as prairie chickens because of their chicken-like shape and size.
Birds are able to find food under a little snow and dig it out. These tracks belong to sparrows which are our most common winter birds. They can quickly become pests in barns and grain storage facilities leaving heaps of manure under their perches.
The grouse move further from the road as I move on. Farmers are hauling grain to area elevators every day, so there is hope that these birds will find enough food to get through the winter.

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