Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Early in the month of May we woke up to an old familiar sound, but not one that we expected to hear out here in our location in central Texas! Just outside our window, calling in the early morning hours, sat a BOBWHITE QUAIL on the fence rail!!! He was sitting very near the bird feeders and just calling out for a mate!

In our area of Washington County quail are considered a very rare find. They used to be abundant at one time (in the very distant past, like 30 years or more ago!) but over-hunting, the introduction of fire ants, and loss of habitat all contributed to a severe decline and now they are considered extremely rare and hardly ever found in our county. Whether this was an escapee from someone's quail pen, or a wild version I guess we will never know. But it did peak our curiosity enough that we went hiking into the woods to see if we could find any of his friends, or if we could see him again..., AND WE DID!

Now this could be the same bird, or a different one, we couldn't tell. My husband (and wildlife adventure partner) is able to imitate a female quail call pretty well and this guy showed up within minutes of the second set of calls. We were about 10 acres away from the first quail sighting in our yard when we called this one up in the woods. I was able to get a video clip of the bird as he moved around us looking for the female - and a clip of his BOBWHITE call.

If you've never heard quail calling, the male has a distinctly different call from the female. The voices sound similar but the pattern is unmistakably different. This is the call of the male.

I have heard that a male quail will call until he locates a female to pair up with for mating and raising little quail. After about 4 days of hearing male quail around the property we heard a female call one morning. Since hearing the female call we have not seen or heard from our male quail friend. I am hoping they found each other and are happily roosting somewhere out in the woods! Until next time..............!


troutbirder said...

Forty years ago here (southeastern Minnesota) Bobwhites were unusual but not rare. Today there are considered extirpated. I too wonder what happened.


I have read that quail habitat is less than optimal anymore, at least around my area of Texas. They seem to need fairly thick brushy areas with close proximity to open grassy spots and they have to be able to move quickly by running on the ground as opposed to flight. Aaand...everything seems to eat them! It's tough to be a quail!