Improving Quail Habitat
Bobwhite quail and other native quail populations have been in decline in recent decades, primarily due to loss of habitat.
Quail are edge-dwelling birds, requiring habitat that mixes grasslands and wooded areas.
Unfortunately, all grassland is not created equal. The prevalence of brome and fescue in pastures and hedgerows now chokes out quail due to the dense growing habit of these grasses, and provides poor quality forage, especially compared to the diverse native prairie and meadow habitats of North America. Prescribed burning of grasslands and reintroduction of native grasses and forbs can improve grassland quail habitat.
In woodlots, the demand for evenly aged large trees with little undergrowth hurts quail populations. Quails require woody shrubs for shelter and food.
One of the easiest ways to improve quail habitat on your property is to plant a native hedgerow mixing mast-producing shrubs, native grasses, and forbs, especially legumes. Hedgerows make excellent wildlife corridors, so they’re a great way to connect different habitat types or food and water sources, since quail don’t like to stray too far from cover.
In order to attract quail, choose multi-purpose shrubs that produce both fruit and flowers. Flowers attract insects, the most important source of food for quail chicks, and fruits and berries are important food sources for older birds. Good choices include:
- blackberry and raspberry
- wild plums and cherries
- wild grapes
- wild roses
- blueberry and huckleberry