Pheasant chicks all predated by magpies / sparrow hawk. Was there anything we could have done to help ?

We have semi tame pheasants in the garden that come to be fed daily. 16 June mum pheasant brought out 11 chicks , she was amazingly attentive. We fed the chicks - wetted scrunched up mealworms and small seed. they got quite tame and would come right up to be fed. However in early mornings particularly if weather was blustery pack of 4-5 magpies would come raiding and carry off chicks. Gradually they almost all went this way (apart from one that fell in the pond). By day 17 there was just one girl left - mum was teaching her to jump up and fly on the picnic table. next day in the middle of the day, we watched as a sparrow hawk dived down and took the remaining chick. Mum pheasant was distraught - called for the chicks for 3 days in the garden. She hasn’t been same since. Was there any more we could have done to help her raise at least a few if the chicks safely or is this interfering? I guess at least they went to feed other birds in the circle of life.  They were melanistic ones too so it would have been interesting to see how they grew up.

  • Pheasants are non native and require intensive support. Their populations are booming, so feeding native species is a good outcome in this case imo. If gamekeepers were all made redundant, the pheasant population would plummet. Realistically, the only way to get several young pheasants per brood to adulthood is to replicate a gamekeeper. Sounds like yours did well to last as long as they did. Cars, cats and foxes would havevwiped thrm out in this garden within their first week.

    ....edited as I keep forgetting this device has auto spellcheck switched in....

  • Sorry to hear about the Pheasant Chicks, as you have said it is nature and they have fed other families, still sad though when you have watched them grow and have fed them. We live in the country and have an estate a couple of miles away, escaped birds have found their way here and ove the years keep coming. This year we had mama and dada with their six, now four babies, who have thankfully survived and must be about two months old now, no maggies here but have the resident Sparrowhawk, but have not seen it for a wee while, chicks are bigger now so hopefully too big to catch, they so far have kept to the garden, living in the filed and have stayed off the main road. Thank goodness the mixed grain is only around £9 per 20kg!! We do get so attached to out feathered friends. These chicks are not as flighty now, being used to getting fed. One Percy male we have would come into the garage when I went to get the corn and hand feed!

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Thanks for your replies Robbo & Catlady. It’s interesting to hear the experiences of others - they are indeed an introduced species, which is indeed controversial and goes to show the balance of predators is not in their favour. If people stopped releasing them for shoots, they would probably soon disappear from the landscape. They are fascinating to have in the garden though - they have been good company in lockdowns - cat lady is right though - they can get through a fair bit of food ! People don’t credit them with being very bright, but they are attentive parents and all the ones here collectively tried to look out for the chicks.