Bobwhite Quail

The Bobwhite Quail is a ground-dwelling bird native to North America. The name derives from their characteristic call which sort of sounds like they are saying Bob White!

The Bobwhite Quail is a member of the group of species known as New World quail. These quail inhabit areas of early successional growth dominated by various species of pine, hardwood, woody, and herbaceous growth. However, quail habitat varies greatly throughout their range which extends from Mexico east to Florida and north into the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

Bobwhites are easily identifiable by a black cap and black stripe behind the eye along the head. The area in between is white on males and yellow-brown on females. There bodies are brown, speckled in places with black or white on both sexes, and average weight is five to six ounces. Bobwhite Quail form what are known as "coveys", groups of five to 30 birds. During the breeding season the usually around mid-April the coveys dissolve. The birds pair off for mating and hatching the eggs. Eggs are laid at a rate of approximately 1 per day, and they hatch after 23 days.

Both males and females can incubate nests, with most nests predominantly incubated by females. If the first clutch of eggs is unsuccessful, a breeding pair will attempt to lay, incubate, and hatch additional clutches. If the clutch is successful, chicks are precocial and will leave the nest approximately 24 hours following hatching. The breeding season continues until mid-October, and successful nesters can potentially lay, incubate, and hatch up to 3 clutches a year.

The Bobwhite Quail is a popular and economically important gamebird, particularly in the SouthEast. Habitat degradation threatens wild populations as well as the introduction of fire ants which destroy a significant portion of the quail eggs each year.

Bobwhite quail are raised in captivity in large numbers for release on hunting preserves or natural areas.

Quail are what is known as gallinaceous birds, that is they dwell on the ground, scratch for their food and have crops and gizzards. Weed seeds, waste grain and insects make up the bulk of their diet. Quail are gleaners and seed scavengers, never disturbing grain or fruits until they have fallen to the ground.

The Bobwhite Quail is the No. 1 game bird in many states. Populations of quail have plumeted from where they were in the 1950's but are recovering. Limited amounts of quality habitat and not hunting limits their numbers.

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