A Tale of Quail

Northern Bobwhite like grassy areas

Just when I think I’ve run out of critters that will come to visit, someone new shows up. Wednesday we had some much-needed rain and the storm was ending. I glanced out the window that overlooks the backyard and I spotted a bird taking shelter under a wax myrtle. At first glance I thought it was one of the mourning doves but I realized it was a little too big. As it started to move, I noticed it was rather ROUND. I thought wow, it must be one of the quail.

I’ve seen quail once or twice in the yard but they never stay long enough to get a photo. I dug around for my camera and quietly opened the door. I tried to capture a photo but the darn thing move to behind another wax myrtle. As I stealthily got closer I saw that there were two and the pair waddled quickly toward the fence, apparently aware of my presence. I tried to quietly move and looked in the brush. Then I spotted them…off in the distance in my neighbor’s yard. For chicken-like birds that walk, these guys are FAST!

Making a getaway

They are Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) a Near Threatened species (IUCN) because they are declining in most states. Of course this is largely due to loss of habitat via development. Their range is most of the eastern half of the U.S. I guess since they walk, it’s tough to get over those Rocky Mountains. There are too many subspecies to list. Note that the West Coast has it’s own genus of quail.

They have quite an array of calls and the territorial one is the basis for their common name. They also have a call which is suppose to sound like “hoy-poo”, but I don’t necessarily hear it that way…who DOES these translations into human??

They are ground birds, even in nesting situations. They eat plants. They are hunted as game birds. I hope they are smart enough to stick to the scrub area next door for nesting since Tanner, the English Setter would have the salt and pepper at the ready.

Florida Fish and Wildlife has a program in place to try to increase populations. Habitat restoration is a big part of this program and involves prescribed burning and other methods that at one time occurred naturally. This agency bringing them back seems an oxymoron given that they issue the hunting licenses and this species is still allowed to be hunted, albeit strictly regulated as far as bag limits. As an aside, I’m not a hunter myself, but I understand hunting and as long it is done for food, I don’t have a problem with it. (No hate mail please).

Once they visit, I think of them as my own and want to protect them

At any rate, I hope these two quail (and any of their friends) stick close to my habitat. I will leave some of the “grassland” area that I have been procrastinating doing the “after winter” mow (aha…FINALLY a valid excuse!). I’m hoping this will keep them happy and in the vicinity. Just down the block starts a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), where hunting occurs during a few weeks of the year. However, whenever a creature turns up at my place, I feel like they are my own and should be off-limits…that is except the rodents.

Note:  Right after I published this article I was looking up Virginia Buttonweed (Diodia virginiana) as today’s choice for my “What Florida Native Plant is Blooming Today” series.  I come to find out that it is a recommended species in Arkansas University’s “Bringing Back Bobwhites” publication.  Perfecting Timing! ~~Loret

A Florida Native Plant that will help Bring Back Bobwhite. Of course it is listed as a troublesome weed of turfgrass and there are recommended herbicides to get rid of it. This type of attitude is a reason for the decline of our species

p.s. I hope all the moms out there have a delightful day this Sunday.

© 2012, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

  1. says

    How wonderful for you, seeing Quail in your yard. I have the West Coast Quail running through my yard, and they are so fun to watch. Hope you get a whole family.. fun to watch the group travel together. About the prescribed burns, do you think they are trying to activate seeds for the Quail? Or, create shelter from different vegetation?
    Kathy @nativegardener recently posted..California’s White Sage of the Chaparral

  2. Mike Korner says

    Loret,
    Interestingly enough, I’m listening to a bobwhite somewhere in my backyard (in Iowa) as I type this. It’s whistle always reminds me of “bob-white”. My Mom had a bobwhite song they used to sing when she was little but I don’t remember it. I hear bobwhites occasionally but rarely see them. I promised to decrease my mowed space by 10% this year though — and have done 25% (guessing) so far instead as an experiment — so hopefully my bobwhite spottings/hearings continue to increase. It’s definitely increased the skunk spottings but that is a whole different story (and all is good as long as they stay way out back :)

  3. Lynn says

    I remember having the bobwhites in the yard when I was a kid, but haven’t seen one for many years. I just looked in my Minnesota Bird Book and I’m not finding them in there. I don’t know why they left Minnesota…perhaps they don’t like the Vikings, Twins, or Timberwolves.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 126. A Tale of Quail: Just when I think I’ve run out of critters that will come to visit, someone new shows up. I glanced out the window that overlooks the backyard and I spotted a bird taking shelter under a wax myrtle. At first glance I thought it was one of the mourning doves but I realized it was a little too big. As it started to move, I noticed it was rather ROUND. I thought wow, it must be one of the quail… ~Loret T. Setters [...]

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