The study of American gamebirds will take you into all parts of the country and into all climates, seasons and kinds of wild land. You will visit the marshes, the fens and the lowland swamps and swales, the upland farms and fields, the broken woods patches and the high remote mountainous areas of our great land.
Various gamebirds are all over the map and are not difficult to identify, as are the many song birds such as the finches, warblers, sparrows and also birds of prey. A ruffed grouse, for instance, with his fan tail and peaked head supported by two black ruffs could not be mistaken in his environment for any other gamebird. The ringneck pheasant could not be mistaken for a prairie chicken, even if it were seen on the prairie, nor could the Canada goose be mistaken for any other goose or duck.
There are, however, some difficult challenges for the gamebird hunter when it comes to many of the duck species, for they are most often seen under the difficult lights of dawn and dusk, and will often be in dark silhouette against the sun.
Many of the game species of land birds will be seen only in local conditions where they are generally found to feed, nest or migrate. For instance, it would be quite impossible for a ruffed grouse to be found in the Navajo country of Arizona, nor will you find the California Gambel's quail in the northernmost reaches of the state of Maine.
However, you will find many species of gamebirds including the California quail in Modoc County, California. Wildlife viewing and hunting are major pastimes for outdoor recreation in this rural area, and
Modoc Country Living’s website
has plenty of good info on photographing, viewing and hunting upland gamebirds and waterfowl.
The study of these birds is a fascinating hobby, whether you are a photographer, bird watcher, hunting sportsman or all three. Knowing their habits around the calendar will in great measure make it possible for you to "get their story" over the cyclic pattern of the year, for as the seasons change, so do their habits and habitats.
Many of the species are migratory and therefore subject to protection by the federal government in cooperation with the southern states through which they pass in the fall and the northern states where they go to nest in the spring. In some areas they are seen only during the migration, despite the fact that some individuals see no reason for the trip and so stay the year round in comfortable surroundings, such as city parks, where they will be well fed and protected.
Then comes the division of the species into categories for practical study and the accounting for those which are found to some extent either as residents or migrants in the area in which you live. However, it is well to know, at least theoretically, about the others, for you can never tell when a vacation trip or later travel in your lifetime will cause you to live or stay a while in the areas where other species reside.
Narrowing down the hunt for the gamebirds, we discover that the best times to study them are in the spring before much of the foliage is out and in the fall when the foliage is dropping from the brush and trees. At both these seasons gamebirds are the most active. Springtime is nesting time and being very shy, gamebirds will try to do their housework without detection, making the game of hide and seek a tough one for the person who does not know where or how to look for them. But since there is no hunting allowed in the spring, they are not quite so wary as they are in the fall months.
As the secrets of the species begin to unfold, the naturalist can go right to their nesting and feeding areas and quietly spy. Most gamebirds quietly sit out the summer after the little ones have left their nest and care, but in the fall, they are busy eatingto prepare for the winter. Even the so-called residents do some migrating and moving about to the best feeding locations.
The gamebird hunter, can best find upland birds in the autumn with the use of a bird dog such as a pointer, setter, or spaniel. These dogs have the pointing instinct and flushing habit, so are traditionally used in locating, holding and flushing or "putting up" the birds for the hunter. Excellent photos can be taken during these hunts by the man who prefers to shoot with a camera.
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