By Gary Joiner
Have you heard? The bobwhite quail and its iconic whistle are back in Texas. At least for this season.
It’s been a jubilee year for the popular bird. Helped by favorable weather and improved habitat across the state, quail returned to the Texas landscape. That’s great news for farmers and ranchers and the small communities who enjoy bobwhites and the important economic revenue that they generate. Towns like Albany, Aspermont and Gail know when the birds are plentiful. Registers ring on Main Street.
Can the increased quail population be sustained? Wildlife biologists are hopeful.
The next three to four months are critical. The nesting season begins in May. A successful nesting period is a key predictor of quail numbers and population dynamics.
Signs are encouraging for a good year. A large carryover of birds into the breeding season and desirable habitat in quail country bode well for the birds. Much depends on what July and August offer. A cooler and wet couple of months is optimal. If it turns hot and dry, the nesting season could come to an abrupt halt.
Livestock owners are doing their part to help. Many are adjusting stocking rates of cattle to ensure there’s enough nesting cover for the quail in their pastures. The goal is to make predators of the ground-nesting birds work harder. The less efficient their efforts, the greater chance of survival for nests.
The wildlife management work of farmers and ranchers is a key ally in the quail’s favor. Providing nesting cover is just one of several habitat practices adopted by growers to help bobwhites. Their stewardship is making a difference. That’s something to whistle about!