On June 18, 2009, from 3 to 8 p.m. the Bradford Research and Extension Center east of Columbia, Mo., will host a Bobwhite Quail/Native Plant Field Day. This field day will consist of wagon tours that give participants an opportunity to see bobwhite quail management demonstrations and research in progress and to see how native plants can be used for conservation. Participants will also discover how native plants can be used for landscaping as well as to clean up water run off in rain gardens or provide seed and insects for birds. Native plants can also be used for bobwhite quail habitat, and participants will get to see first hand how they can be incorporated in land-use management such as edge feathering and native grass management. There will also be informational booths on native plants and quail management and the public will have an opportunity to purchase native plants.
For several years, the Bradford Research and Extension Center has been an active participant in promoting quail habitat management. The center holds several habitat field tours each year that showcase different quail habitat management practices such as edge feathering, shrub plantings, perennial food plots, native grass burning and disking techniques, as well as CP33 habitat buffers.
The center is involved in more than just quail habitat practices. They have also installed practices such as native grass plantings in diversion channels, alternative forages of native grasses and forbs, invasive plant control and wildlife-friendly biofuel mixes that demonstrate to landowners that applying these practices is not only economically feasible and helps to protect natural resources, but can also provide quality habitat for quail and other species of wildlife at the same time.
Last year, in addition to the habitat management practices, BREC trapped four adult male quail and attached radio transmitters to track their movements on the farm. The radioed quail were almost exclusively found using the perennial food plots, weedy fields that had recently been burned or disked and within woody draws that had been managed to provide a shrubby cover. During last year's field day, at least 150 landowners had the opportunity to see firsthand where quail were located on the farm when telemetry locations were found during the tour.
Even more amazing, is the quail population on BREC and surrounding private land. Last year, fall whistle counts were conducted in October to monitor the quail population trends. The surveys proved that quail habitat management works! The density estimate was 0.44 quail per acre. This is equivalent to approximately 38 coveys on the research center and surrounding private land.
Department of Conservation staff have recognized the importance of the research center and with the help of conservation partners like the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency have designated the research center and surrounding private land as a private land quail focus area. The purpose of private land quail focus areas is to show a landscape improvement in quail densities and to promote quail and grassland bird conservation. Today, there are 34 private land quail focus areas scattered throughout Missouri. Most focus areas are about 30,000 acres in size, but some are even larger because of wide spread interest in bobwhites.
The Bradford Quail Focus Area is approximately 20,000 acres and is a mix of different habitats--from large agricultural fields to small homesteads with 5- to 10-acre lots. The key to selling quail habitat in the focus area will depend on active landowners like George Hobson who has turned his farm into a quail haven by planting native grasses, food plots and periodically disturbing the grass fields.
George's farm is right across the road from the research center and is home to two or three coveys. George also "shares" a covey with the center as the covey often moves back and forth from his property to the research center. For several years George has intensively managed his 80-acre farm for bobwhites and he has seen a definite increase in bobwhites since the habitat improvements at Bradford Farm.
To learn more about Bradford Farm and the Quail and Native Plant Field Day click here.
Habitat is the Key!