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
-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