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Outdoor topics => The Outdoor Board => Topic started by: WDH on June 23, 2019, 08:57:06 PM

Title: Bob White Quail
Post by: WDH on June 23, 2019, 08:57:06 PM
Bob white quail have been in serious decline in the South.  As a kid, they were pretty common on the farm, but all that has changed with loss of habitat and modern farming practices.  I am a farmer, not a row crop farmer but a tree farmer.  My management strategy has been to maintain the natural timber areas on my property, both pine and hardwood, and I have planted pine on all the old fields and pastures.  My strategy has been to thin heavy and do prescribed burns every couple of years to keep the hardwood competition down and to promote grasses, herbaceous plants, and forbs.  Blackberry is an especially good wildlife plant. 

A year and a half ago I burned the plantation, age 20, that is growing next to my sawmill operation.  This Spring and Summer, I have been very pleased to hear the call of the bob whites again when I go over to work in the mornings.  The heavy thinning and burning have created the perfect weedy quail habitat in the plantation.  One of my customers the other day commented on hearing the bob whites calling when he was there buying good.  It warms my heart to hear them calling again. Here is a pic of the plantation and the habitat created by the heavy thinning and burning.  A lot of what you see in the pic are blackberries. 


(http://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/14370/IMG_2802.JPG?easyrotate_cache=1561336754)
 
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: thecfarm on June 23, 2019, 09:06:40 PM
A nice looking piece of land and woods.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WV Sawmiller on June 23, 2019, 09:56:28 PM
   Controlled burning was part of nearly every wildlife management plan we studied for southern bobwhite quail. Bicolor lespediza is a good food crop to encourage them. The blackberries will be good cover and good food for them. I miss them as we don't have them up here like we did in NW Fla where I grew up. 
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: ellmoe on June 23, 2019, 09:57:05 PM
Between the industrial tree farming , coyotes moving in , and fire ants , we went from a covey at every deer feeder to not seeing or hearing a quail in only three years on a lease in North Florida.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Southside on June 23, 2019, 10:55:00 PM
Funny your timing on posting this, the other day a customer was here and asked me if that was quail he was hearing as he was quite shocked.  I had not even noticed it as I have been hearing them a lot this year.  My management strategy is very similar to yours in that I have been creating a grazing savanah in our timber.  I tend to leave mature over story and open up holes that let sunlight get to the ground to encourage grass and legumes.  Of course along with that comes hardwood sprouts, lots of gum, maple, sycamore and poplar - which my cows happily browse to a spindly, broken, twig.  Also grow a lot of black berries and once a year I will meander through those areas and whack back the black berries.  That never happened last year given how wet it was.  Now the cows will eat some of the leaves and push through the patches, but most remain quite intact.  Oh -and they love to hide newborn calves in there too, such a fun game! Last week I was moving temporary fencing through a field and crossed via a cow path through a berry patch when a blue bird did the "my wing is broken, chase me" thing right out of the patch.  Combine that with the little bunnies I spotted darting around and the quail I have been hearing and I told my wife I won't be brush hogging down any of those berry patches for several weeks to a month it seems.  It sure is nice to see the wildlife out there, much more valuable than the little bit of grass production I will lose in those berry patches.       
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: thecfarm on June 24, 2019, 05:22:03 AM
Good job. It's nice to see widlife.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WDH on June 24, 2019, 07:37:24 AM
You are a good man, Chris.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Wudman on June 24, 2019, 04:33:49 PM
I have been trying to promote quail habitat on my farm since I bought it.  One of the limiting factors for quail in most areas is escape cover.  Those blackberry patches are great for that purpose if they are so rough that nothing else can get through them.  Quail can scamper under it but hawks and owls can't dive bomb them.  Bobcats and foxes can't penetrate as well as quail.  Live hinge cut trees promote this type of cover.  I had some nice piles on the farm with super tough blackberry patches, but the electric company didn't like them as much as I did.  When the hand crew came through last summer, they wiped out my piles.  I guess I should have coordinated with them ahead of time.  The blackberry wasn't going to encroach into their lines.  I had one by the drive that I frequently saw a covey.  I had lespedeza planted in the right of way.  They would feed there then run to the brush pile when somebody came down the drive.  I have maintained soft field edges to promote escape cover adjacent to bicolor and VA 70 lespedeza.  I had the bush hog out Saturday to clean up the edges of my driveway when a hen turkey popped up out of the grass.  I had seen her many times over the last couple of months, but she was acting the mom that day.  I stopped and just in front of me I saw the grass moving.  There were about a dozen little ones smaller than my fist.  The bush hog will stay parked for a few more weeks until I know they will run instead of sticking tight.

The biggest hindrance to quail recovery is nest predation.  A study conducted a few years back on the Amelia Wildlife Management Area (Virginia) revealed a 94% predation rate on quail nests.  Skunks, bobcats, coons, rat snakes, feral cats, possums, and even groundhogs (woodchucks) were identified as culprits.  They started a trapping effort to remove small fur bearing mammals to see how the quail responded, but various "enviro" groups intervened and shut down the program.  Quail are one species that actually benefits from coyotes.  The coyotes prefer the quail's predators to the quail and can have positive impacts on quail numbers.

Another hindrance to quail is the smaller clearcut size employed in today's plantation forestry.  Quail would benefit from large clearcuts with subsequent fire used in the site prep.  We have transitioned to smaller clearcuts today and tend to maximize edge effect.  Quail are concentrated into smaller areas and predators become more effective hunters.  The bird would benefit from 1000 acre clearcuts.  Predators would have larger areas to hunt and their success ratio would go down.

So the answer is a multipronged approach.  Promote early successional habitat and maintain it with fire.  Provide escape cover.  Maintain food sources.   Provide good bug habitat for the chicks to feed and wipe out the predators.  What could be easier? 

Wudman

Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Southside on June 24, 2019, 06:07:54 PM
I have had my dust ups with the utility contractors as well.  They are by far the best tree planting company out there.  Their management practice was to come in and hog down the legumes and grasses I had planted to bare earth, which of course opened up the soil for all the tree seeds that had landed there for the past 50 years.  On a rough, steep, hill I had a mix of lespredeza and weeping love grass, first year planting and with warm season grasses you really want to give them two full years before you graze or cut them to get good root production, so we had a chat about what I was doing and they put up a couple of signs and said it would not happen again.  Well about two years later the same fools literally drove within a foot of the sign and ran over about $2K worth of irrigation pipe that was there and plain as day visible.  Now that is not good - but what was worse was the operator tried to make a quick get away - in a tracked skid steer mind you, complete with a flail mower hanging off the front - rather than say a word to anyone about what had happened.  That got expensive for them, really, really, expensive.  Now I have some nice gates and barriers that were installed free of charge and a shiny pile of new irrigation pipe, along with a really, really, pretty ROW of grass and legumes.  Of course this was just a couple of years after they re-seeded an alfalfa field they tore up all to junk when 30 some odd vehicles all had to drive a different path across the field and park with cones around each vehicle spaced 30' apart because one of the same crews dropped a massive poplar onto their line and wiped it out.  Mind you the public road crossing was maybe 75' away but they all decided it was better to drive 1/4 mile through that field.

Oh - and their GIS system is now flagged and all contractors now get a pre-trip to our farm to ensure there are no repeat incidents. @Wudman (http://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?action=profile;u=624) If we have the same utility co-op and they give you too many problems in the future let me know, I can give you some direct numbers or call for you, they recognize my voice now.   ;D
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: btulloh on June 24, 2019, 06:14:16 PM
I think Old Greenhornís neighbor works for Southside's utility company.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Old Greenhorn on June 24, 2019, 08:18:02 PM
I think Old Greenhornís neighbor works for utility company.
Could be, but I don't think so. He says he works in construction, which also scares me a little. Maybe it's his cousin? ;D
 Geez SS, you got some winners down that way. :D
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: lxskllr on June 24, 2019, 09:24:20 PM
I've seen quail once in my life. I was about 13, and my mother took me and a friend to Busch Gardens and Williamsburg. Me and him bought pipes and tobacco at Busch Gardens(Try doing that today!  :^D  ), and in the morning we went behind the hotel to the edge of woods to smoke them. By memory, it was about a dozen birds, maybe 50' from us. Pretty cool. A guy at work said he used to see them around here as a kid, but I've never seen one, and most of my life has been outside.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Wudman on June 25, 2019, 09:44:13 AM
Southside - I appreciate the offer.  I know a few folks there myself.  I'll take part of the blame as I had not contacted them ahead of the game.  They gave me notice that they would be spraying and I didn't take the time to contact anybody.  There were some nice plump blackberries that I had been cultivating as well.  They were about to become a cobbler (had to get back to food).  They have hired a couple of young ladies as right of way foresters now.  Guess they will be there to manage public relations.

On a positive note, a service crew did show up at my house about 3:00 AM one morning when one hot leg on my underground feed shorted.  They dropped a portable transformer and had me back in service in a matter of minutes.  The repair crew showed up about daylight.  They traced the break and had me promptly fixed.  The break was directly under the water line to the well.  My well driller had nicked it when he laid the water line.  It took about 3 years before it burned in half.....so overall, I can't complain too much.

Wudman
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Southside on June 25, 2019, 09:56:43 AM
Oh - the Co-op has great folks - it's the contractors they hire to do the ROW work that is bottom of the barrel material.  I brought up to them that the standard they maintain out in the sticks is different than that in the built up areas as is visible from the roadside when they are working - they were long on looking at their shoes suddenly and short on any explanation.  
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: btulloh on June 25, 2019, 09:59:48 AM
Happy birthday, Southside. Enjoy your cake.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: timberking on June 25, 2019, 10:35:07 AM
Last quail I heard in ETex was at a coal fired power plant that had the money to promote habitat.  15 years ago.  Out west, the population is in a down cycle.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: sawguy21 on June 25, 2019, 11:48:22 AM
I grew up in this area and don't recall seeing many quail as a kid. Moved back four years ago from the coast, I have never seen so many in my life. Our home was on the edge of a forested area with thick brush, we regularly saw 30-40 of them running across the yard. Other than coyotes we don't have a lot of predators although raccoons are starting to show up.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: btulloh on June 25, 2019, 12:02:21 PM
It's been at least ten years since I heard any here.  I used to be able to call them up but that only works if they're in hearing distance.  The only ones I've seen since then were at game preserves.  

When I was about 12 or 13 I used to hunt them by walking them up.  Not easy, but made you quick on the mount.  One time I was hunting with a 12ga. hammer gun and flushed a covey.  I was mounting the gun and cocking both hammers at the same time and my thumb slipped while the gun was an inch or two off my shoulder.  Ouch.  The bruise lasted a good two weeks.  No quail were harmed on that outing.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: sawguy21 on June 25, 2019, 07:46:00 PM
 :D I did that with an old military .303, I was a skinny 14 year old and first time with anything bigger than a .22. I didn't know what to expect but quickly learned.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Texas Ranger on June 25, 2019, 09:03:06 PM
:D I did that with an old military .303, I was a skinny 14 year old and first time with anything bigger than a .22. I didn't know what to expect but quickly learned.
Mine was a .47-70 trapdoor carbine, at about the same age, I discovered gravity.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Southside on June 25, 2019, 09:30:17 PM
1960's Savage model 99C in .308 with 180 gr hot loads, I was probably about the same age,  Remington .222 had been about the biggest rifle I had ever fired before that.  Very short, very light, metal butt plate, great brush gun - kicks like a DanG moose even when you hold it against your shoulder.  
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WDH on June 26, 2019, 10:53:55 AM
Never been kicked by a moose :).
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: sawguy21 on June 26, 2019, 11:22:46 AM
You don't want to. ;D
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Texas Ranger on June 26, 2019, 11:34:36 AM
quail gone from east Texas some 50 years due to fireants.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WDH on June 26, 2019, 12:02:56 PM
They must have run the moose out, too  :D.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: btulloh on June 26, 2019, 12:04:13 PM
You don't want to. ;D
You got that right!!
A moose kicks like having both barrels of a 12 gauge hammer gun go off an inch from your shoulder 'cause your thumb slipped off the hammers!!   :D :D
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: barbender on June 26, 2019, 05:24:41 PM
What exactly do the fire ants do to quail, get the young or prevent the hens from nesting? 
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Texas Ranger on June 26, 2019, 07:53:46 PM
What exactly do the fire ants do to quail, get the young or prevent the hens from nesting?
They attack the hatchlings of ground nesting birds.  It added the last level of predatory pressure to the little birds.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: YellowHammer on June 26, 2019, 08:19:24 PM
We used to have lots of quail, now I rarely hear them.  We never had fire ants, but they have invaded and are now everywhere.  Nothing else has changed, as far as I know.  Same fields, same crops, same farmers, but no quail.  Nobody hunts quail here anymore so they arenít over hunted. I try to leave fields fallow for them and turkeys to raise up.  Occasionally I will hear a covey.    

I agree, the fire ants are incredibly effective at finding and attacking any meat, living or dead, on the ground.  If the birds canít defend themselves, they will suffer.  

I canít even walk in the yard or fields barefoot without getting bit by fire ants. How could a little bitty sweet ground living bird survive?  
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Southside on June 27, 2019, 12:13:05 AM
Have had a family of Carolina Wrens hatch out a family on the porch every year for a while now, one year they ended up inside when I left a window open - oops, actually didn't cause any real issues other than making sure the little ones found their way out when the day came.  Anyway last nigh was the big empty nest night.  Momma bird was making quite the racket while the little ones were zipping all around.  One will be back next year I am sure.  
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: ellmoe on June 27, 2019, 06:08:32 AM
Have had a family of Carolina Wrens hatch out a family on the porch every year for a while now, one year they ended up inside when I left a window open - oops, actually didn't cause any real issues other than making sure the little ones found their way out when the day came.  Anyway last nigh was the big empty nest night.  Momma bird was making quite the racket while the little ones were zipping all around.  One will be back next year I am sure.  


For three years we had a wren nest in a loader. We parked in the same place every evening and the nest was built and eggs laid before I noticed it . During breaks , at lunch , at closing , and whenever else I could , I'd park the loader in the same place. As soon as I'd exit , the wrens would return and tend the young . All hatched and survived the fledgling stage . Amazing little guys.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: YellowHammer on June 27, 2019, 07:11:12 AM
I had one not so smart but super determined bird start nesting in the blow pipe of our dust collector a few years ago.  Whenever we turned it on and off, several times a day, whatever nesting materials it had deposited, got blown out, and the momma bird would try her best to fly into the pipe with the blower running.  It was like a salmon trying to swim up a water fall.  Quite a site.

She finally found a better spot to nest.  
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Weekend_Sawyer on June 27, 2019, 08:54:03 AM
We used to have a lot of quail around our house in Maryland and in WV.
I haven't seen one in many years.
In the last 10 years there has been a lot of logging done in our valley making for some very nice under story. I'm thinking it's time to re introduce them.
Jon
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Magicman on June 27, 2019, 07:16:28 PM
I agree, the fire ants are incredibly effective at finding and attacking any meat, living or dead
A few years ago we had a disabled nursing home resident that was killed by fire ants.  They somehow invaded her room and completely covered the lady and she was unable to summon for help.  It was a horrible situation.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: Texas Ranger on June 27, 2019, 09:59:50 PM
My introduction to fire ants was on the side of the road back in the day.  Had stopped to look for a bug spot, and stepped in the ant bed as I got in the truck.  60 foot down the road they hit, I jammed breaks, jumped out and dropped trow on the side of the highway.  Got a couple of honks.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: barbender on June 28, 2019, 12:56:04 AM
Magic, that is absolutely horrible!
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WV Sawmiller on June 28, 2019, 08:57:02 AM
TR,

   I don't know if fire ants are telepathic or what but when you step in a bed as described the first one on you doesn't bite and give you warning to clear the area. He waits till 100 or so of his siblings are there and they all seem to bite on command. I've seen them in periods of high water floating down the backwater in clumps of a couple of gallons of ants. They hold together and make living rafts. They were bad in N. Fla but fortunately we don't have them up here yet. I think the winters are too cold and I know they like sandy soil to build and nest in. I had a buddy who used to melt lead and pour it down the ant holes and it made some real neat figures as it ran down the side branches and tunnels and cooled.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: YellowHammer on June 28, 2019, 03:24:02 PM
I used to live in Orlando as a kid.  I got conditioned to feel the soft ground when I stepped in a fire ant nest, and instinctively would jump out before getting mobbed.  It became a reflexive action.

Decades later, whenever I step on an unusually soft piece of ground, Iíll still subconsciously hop up in the air.
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: ellmoe on June 29, 2019, 06:30:38 AM
TR,

   I don't know if fire ants are telepathic or what but when you step in a bed as described the first one on you doesn't bite and give you warning to clear the area. He waits till 100 or so of his siblings are there and they all seem to bite on command. 
 One will release a pheromone , and then they all join in the fun!
Title: Re: Bob White Quail
Post by: WV Sawmiller on June 29, 2019, 09:01:35 AM
Ellmoe,

  I can testify it won't be the first on on your leg or at least not till the whole family gets on too.  yikes_smiley