Northern Bobwhite Quail

The quail subspecies occurring at Babcock/Webb is slightly smaller than more northern subspecies (cocks, 146.43 gm; hens, 150.47 gm). Babcock/Webb is close to the southern limit of the bobwhite's range. As is typical on the periphery of a species' range, the population fluctuates widely. At Webb, rainfall appears to be a dominant factor in the fluctuation.

In 1946 the quail population was estimated at 9000 birds, and by 1948 had fallen to a low of 1000 birds. Largely as a result of intensive management, the population peaked with 34,000 birds in 1976-77. From 1952-1980, the average annual quail harvest was 4,433 birds.

"Bobwhites sing loudly. Dance around each other without the slightest regard to predators, strut their seven-ounce bodies like twenty-pound turkeys." 
-Guy de la Valdene, For a Handful of Feathers

A downward trend began in 1981, and the average harvest from 1981-1994 was 2,334 birds. This downward trend may have been related to increasing hunting pressure. Development on neighboring lands has also increased dramatically since 1980.

The FWC is currently conducting a study of the quail population on Babcock/Webb. Three hundred quail have been equipped with radio tags. The study will yield valuable information about the quail's life history and habitat requirements. As an adjunct to this study, a number of Cooper's hawks have been tagged as well.

FWC Facts:
Spring and summer are the best times to listen for the elusive 5-inch Bachman's sparrow. Their song begins with a loud, clear whistle followed by an extended trill.

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