Nest predation of Common Pheasants Phasianus colchicus.
The Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus is currently the most abundant, widespread and economically important gamebird in Europe. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has undertaken several recent studies of Pheasant breeding ecology to improve the management of this species. Although predation is often the most important cause of nest failure in declining ground-nesting birds in agricultural landscapes, the causes of predation and the identity of predators are often unknown. In this paper, we analyse data from approximately 450 nests of radiotagged hen Pheasants collected from six sites between 1990 and 2003 and present results on the fate and survival rates of Pheasant nests in relation to habitat, predation control and other covariates. Survival rates during the laying stage and incubation stage were 28 and 37%, respectively, and overall nest survival was 10%. Nest predation rates were significantly lower on two sites where intensive predation control was undertaken than on four sites with only low levels of predation control. Red Foxes Vulpes vulpes and corvids were the most important nest predators, accounting for at least half of all predation events. We assess these results in the context of other ground-nesting farmland birds.