Bobwhite quail (BWQ) populations are in free-fall across the nation. Many areas where BWQ once flourished haven’t hear the melodic whistle of “Bob, Bob White” in decades. Worse yet, no one seems to care. You won’t find any animal welfare groups working toward a restoration or sounding an alarm. The general public isn’t supporting specific funds to help restore populations. Only stout conservationists, mostly hunters, advocate for improved habitat and legislation that will improve BWQ numbers.
Loss of Habitat
I grew up in Western Maryland in the 1950’s and 60’s, a time when quail population flourished in many rural areas. On a give day, it wasn’t unusual to jump 10 covies by merely walking fence rows and agricultural fields. Today, those harvested fields with brushy rock breaks and wide, tree-lined fence rows are as barren as a football field. The onset of no-til farming and the economic drive to plant every square inch of a field has eliminated areas for quail to nest, feed, and hide from predators.
Quail and ring-neck pheasants must nest on the ground. The loss of cover for nesting combined with a predator population which has no limitations makes nest survival nearly impossible. Whereas raccoons, possums, and skunks once had a fur value, that trapping incentive has passed and these egg-eating creatures thrive. Foxes and coyotes are trapped in some areas, yet not sufficiently to reduce predation impact.
The National Bobwhite Quail Initiative is an annual report that conservationist use to measure the state of BWQ and report initiatives that are preserving or increasing habitat and populations. If you are look for a conservation New Year’s Resolution, why not take a step for Mr. Bob. Here’s a quick synopsis of the report and where you can become involved:
NBCI’s Almanac/State of the Bobwhite Report is an annual publication of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) to provide a range-wide snapshot of population, hunting and conservation status of the northern bWQ, as well as looks at efforts underway to reverse the bobwhite decline.