Bobwhite Quail at Oakridge Ranch

Bobwhite Quail

By:  Marilyn Rutledge

“Bobwhite!”  The peaceful call of the Northern Bobwhite, commonly referred to as Bobwhite Quail, is a peaceful sound that echoes through the woods where these moderately-sized birds live.  The bobwhite is a ground dwelling bird with adults standing six to seven inches in height and weigh about six to seven ounces.  The male’s upper parts are reddish-brown, while the belly is pale and streaked.  There is a white stripe above the eye and a white patch framed in black on the throat.  The female looks like the male with the exception of the white patch on the throat being caramel-colored instead.  They travel in coveys of two or more families and once they pair with a mate, they stay with that mate until death.  Both parents will incubate a brood for about 24 days with the young leaving the nest shortly after hatching.  Both parents then lead the young birds to feed and care for them for about two weeks until their first flight.  They raise 1 to 2 broods of 12 to 16 eggs per year.

The bobwhite is a non-migratory, year-round resident found mostly in the eastern and mid-western United States from southern Ontario and Maine, west to southern Minnesota, South Dakota, and southeastern Wyoming, and south to the Gulf coast and eastern Mexico.  Their habitat includes active and fallow crop fields, pastures, grasslands, woodlands, and brushy areas.  The bobwhite’s diet consists of grass seeds such as ragweed, panic grass, Johnson grass, spurges, crotons, chittamwood, dayflowers, black locust, sweetgum, sunflowers, crabgrass, foxtail, bull grasses, beggar’s-tick, smartweed, oaks, pines, and ash.  In addition to grass seed, they consume legumes such as partridge pea and mild pea.  The bobwhite also enjoy eating cultivated grains such as soybeans, wheat, millet, corn, tick trefoil, grain sorghum, buckwheat, rye, cowpeas, prairie clovers, and peanuts.   Added to their diet is wild fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, bayberries, Muscadine, hackberry, plums, pokeberries, raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries, wax myrtle, grapes, rose hips, persimmons as well as berries of dogwood, sumac, poison ivy, and greenbrier.  Finally the bobwhite eat insects and arthropods such as grasshoppers, flies, aphids, spiders, ants, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, potato beetles, snails, and others.  They require daily easy access to water as well.

Since the bobwhite are ground dwelling birds, their nesting cover is normally native grasses or dense vegetation communities with open passable alleyways on or near the ground.  They avoid areas that encourage rodent populations, fire ants, and snakes as these are major predators of bobwhite nests.  The nest is a shallow depression lined with dry grasses located in grass clumps that range from 6 to 18 inches in height.  Once hatched, the brood-rearing cover differs from the nesting cover to enable movement of quail chicks.  As much as 70 percent of this area can be open with overhead concealment and a diversity of low-growing green foliage and abundant insects.  During the winter months, a woody cover where snow is abundant is preferred by the bobwhite.  Tangled thickets, dense grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation that conceal quail from predators are used as escape cover when located close to travel lanes, nesting, brood-rearing and loafing areas.

The bobwhite, once very popular and numerous, initially provided a subsistence food for settlers.  During the early 1900’s however, hunting and trapping of quail became popular as markets developed to sell them.  This practice, along with the reduction of food sources, nesting and protective covering has reduced the quail population by as much as 70 to 90 percent.  Although these birds are not typical backyard birds, in the appropriate habitat they will visit ground feeders for seeds or cracked corn as well as ground-level bird baths.  To encourage bobwhites to visit your area, one should avoid insecticide sprays and choose low shrubs for landscaping to make them feel secure.  For more information, visit the internet and search either Northern Bobwhite or Bobwhite Quail.

Bobwhite Quail_Rutledge_Mar2013

 

President’s Message March 2013

Your ORWMA executive committee held its meeting March 9th at the Petter home. The minutes were read and approved along with the Treasure’s report.   The new ORWMA banner was presented and approved by committee.  We had a lengthy discussion about our website with a lot of new ideas from our committee leaders. A team was formed with Jean Herring, Brenda LaVergne and Donna Burrows to review new avenues of updating or changing our website.

From Donna Burrows    I’m already spotting bluebonnets on I-10.   As winter starts to let go, more spring flowers are on their way, migration gets going in earnest and nesting begins.  Butterflies will start flying and trees and grasses will begin to green and we will see if we had a wet enough winter to keep up the momentum for a few spring months.   For now, it is definitely a waiting game.

It is sobering to look around to see effects of the hypoxylon canker which has devastated so many trees in our drought.   Until we get some real, measurable rain, the canker will continue on its way to, in the long run, bring us back to broader areas of beneficial grass lands.   We need our native grasses as much as the trees.

Of course, the trees that can be left standing are great for wildlife, as we know.    For instance, we have a great roost tree for the Pileated Woodpecker; perhaps now to house an owl or squirrels or raccoons.  Or, for that matter the large brush piles the down trees make are also beneficial.  Taking stock of all, if we must lose so many trees, it is great to see these side benefits developing.

So, come on, Spring.  Show us what you’ve got.

Upcoming events-

April 6th   Columbus Trash off Day, ORWMA sponsors county road 215 and will be picking up trash that day. Contact Glenda Lambert (gl78962@gmail.com) or Carolyn Trickett (ctricket@yahoo.com) for more information or just show up at 8:00 AM at the North gate.  ORIA will also be participating by sprucing up the North and South gate entrances. If you wish to pitch in for an hour then contact Brenda LaVergne (Brenda.lavergne@gmail.com) for the South gate or Larry Petter (larry@citywestwindows.com) for the North gate. Also that day we will be doing a spring cleaning at the Community Center. For all those that donate their time, ORWMA will provide a light lunch at 12:00 at the Community Center; contact Jean Herring (mackieherring@yahoo.com) if you wish to assist her!

KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL & KEEP TEXAS BEAUTIFUL

 March 1st to May 31, 2013.

April 13th ORWMA is sponsoring a CHL class in Oakridge Ranch. This will be the classroom instruction and firing range. We will have a certified instructor by the Texas Department of Public Safety on site. Fees are estimated to be $95 depending on number of participants. We will begin at 8:00 AM at the Community Center.  We need confirmation if you wish to attend so that we may plan the day.  I recommend you bring a sack lunch for the day.  Please contact Vernon Wallace (vwallace@satyainc.com) by the April 2, 2013.

April 20th ORWMA Spring Banquet 2013   “This is the event we have been planning!”  We are having a shrimp boil!    Hot dogs will be available also!   Bring a chair!  Come hear our guest speaker Bill Mitchell, Chief Appraiser of Colorado County discussing AG or Wildlife exemptions.  Bring a dessert to share if you can!  If you are a member of ORWMA or wish to join, then please come!  The location is the Community Center and the time is 4:00 PM.  I saved the best for last———-FREE

OAKRIDGE RANCH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

We are excited about having our first ORWMA member social for 2013!  So mark your calendars! If you wish to volunteer your help then let me know. We can always use the help to set up tables and chairs. The ORWMA executive committee takes great pride in sending you this message. Let us know what you think, share your ideas, with us.

Larry Petter, President-ORWMA