I’ve mentioned several times that I am interested in nurturing Missouri’s bobwhite quail population, which is currently in severe decline. One way to do that is to get myself educated about them, so here I go.
Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) are indigenous to the eastern and southern U.S. and the southern part of the Midwest, including all of the great state of Missouri. They get their name from their characteristic call, which really does sound like “bob white,” or sometimes “bob, bob white.” It’s a call that takes me back to my boyhood summers at my grandparents’ farm in Kentucky where it seems like the name was constantly being sung in the fields and forests. Oddly, I’ve heard the call occasionally in the backyard of my suburban Kansas City home, but I’ve always traced it to damned starlings, who aren’t at all reluctant to steal other birds’ lovely calls.
I can’t recall ever hearing “bob white” in all of our many hours spent at Roundrock, which is sad. We’ve never flushed a covey of quail in our ramblings, and only once did I see what might have been a quail flying away from the pond when we stomped out of the trees.
Yet Roundrock does have most of the qualities that would be suitable for quail habitat. We have blackberries. We have woody edge areas. We have brush piles. We have water. We have impassable thickets. We have nearby crop fields. And we have a surfeit of cedar trees, which are supposed to provide good winter roosting places for quail. The wildly overgrown pecan plantation seems to have all of the qualities of good quail habitat. I even take some small encouragement from the spread of the sericea lespedeza, which may not be nourishing to the quail, but the fact that I find it all over the place suggests they are eating it and then ranging widely to “spread” it.
The wonderful Missouri Department of Conservation provides “quail bundles” in the plants it sells each year, and I may avail myself of some of these to increase my active role.
Roundrock is large enuf and wild enuf to support two and maybe three coveys of quail, so now all I have to do is make sure I don’t screw things up. I guess I’ll become more tolerant of blackberries. And, okay, maybe I’ll leave a few cedar trees standing here and there.