Northern Bobwhite: Colinus virginianus
The Northern bobwhite is a medium-sized, round-bodied bird with a short tail and neck. Plumage is reddish brown with streaking on the sides. Males have a black-and-white face pattern; in females it is black-and-buff.
Northern bobwhites occur throughout Florida in appropriate habitat. In addition to mature upland forests, the best habitats include fallow agricultural fields dominated by such species as ragweed, and the edges of cultivated grain fields. The best combination is probably a combination of agriculture, without excessive weed control, interspersed throughout regularly burned mature pine forest. At one time, this was a very common habitat in Florida and abundant quail populations were a by-product of an extensive land use pattern in Florida. This is not the case today and quail occur in abundant numbers only on those lands which are intensively managed to replicate the land use patterns described above.
The Northern bobwhite, sometimes called bobwhite quail, is one of the signature species of upland long leaf pine forests. Visitors to these habitats can expect to hear the males make the tell tale whistled call - bobwhite - and it's not uncommon to be surprised by a sudden explosion of birds as a covey of quail flushes from a brushy area.
Bobwhites feed and roost in flocks (coveys) of 8 to 25 birds. They hunt on the ground in search of fruits, seeds, insects and plant parts. Females lay 12-16 eggs in a shallow nest built on the ground and hidden beneath vegetation.