They Gotta Have Cover, Pheasants That is…
Posted: 08/26/2014

“They Gotta’ Have Cover” is a new and catchy video to call attention to what farmers can do to bring back pheasants and other grassland birds. Debuting at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Aug. 26-28, the video features three farmers rapping about the cover types they’ve planted, then nurtured to shelter and feed pheasant throughout the year.

Once you hear the lyrics, you won’t be able to forget them.

“They gotta’ have cover! Yes they do, yes they do!” or “Gotta’ have grass for the pheasants to nest, 10 to 12 inches is what the hens like best.”

It’s not as simple as planting a field of brome or switch grass, and watching the birds fly. The DNR’s research shows that managed farms with three essential types of habitat produce more birds than unmanaged farms — three times as many.

What’s good for pheasant is good for most grassland birds, from meadowlarks to quail; Henslowe sparrows to bobolinks.

Since the 1960s, Iowa has lost half the ideal land for grassland birds – land in hay and small grains like oats – dropping from more than 7 million to 3.4 million acres. As a result, grassland birds are in trouble.

“Gotta’ have Cover” gives farmers a quick tutorial on how to bring the birds back. The video is on the Iowa DNR’s pheasant page at

Stop by the DNR booth in Conservation Central, Lot 817, at the Farm Progress Show and prepare to be entertained.

hile you’re there, check out “Farmer Feud,” hot topic speakers, nine cover crop plots, the Soil Health trailer and booths at all 12 conservation partners. More information is available at or

Find information about establishing pheasant and grassland bird habitat at

For more information, contact Kevin Baskins, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-249-2814.