Bobwhite Quail Habitat Management

Habitat management is the key to bobwhite quail management. To better understand strategies to improve quail and quail habitat, additional research is necessary. One project in South Texas has been taking place on Tanglehead grass. This species is a native grass that has been behaving much like an invasive exotic grass in Jim Hogg and Brooks counties during the past decade. It does provide usable nesting cover for quail, but poor foraging habitat for bobwhites. This falls in line with of the research on buffelgrass from previous quail research.

In this on-going quail management research, research found that a combined brush control treatment (herbicide followed with fire followed with roller-chopping) versus summer prescribed fire, were about equally effective, and have similar effects, on grassland birds in the coastal prairie region of South Texas.

There is also a new “Quailerator” roller chopper that was invented by a Texas ranch that seems to be an effective, and in some ways potentially superior method for maintaining bobwhite habitat compared to traditional roller-choppers.

In other on-going quail research, molecular genetics data continue to support the emerging pattern that bobwhites in South Texas have a high level of genetic diversity and a low level of population differentiation, which indicates long-distance (1-10 miles) movements are more important than previously thought. This can be great for individual properties looking at quail restoration or increasing their current population of native birds.

Molecular genetics data tend to indicate that most, if not all, of the 22 previously described subspecies of the Northern Bobwhite are not distinct lineages, and should not necessarily be considered as proxies for defining management units. It seems bobwhite quail have more inter-relatedness than quail managers ever expected.

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