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Brood Habitat: Where the Bugs Are

May 24, 2011

During the late 1990s, researchers at Auburn University tagged and followed more than 1,000 adult bobwhites to determine brood habitat preferences. They also collected more than 10,000 samples from insect sweep nets to compare insect abundance four types of potential quail brood habitat.

Close to 80 percent of all broods were raised in fallow, weedy fields which were preferred over three other categories of potential brood habitat including corn fields, woodland clearings and burned pine woods. Analysis of the insect availability in these four habitat types tells us why: That’s where the bugs were!  While little difference existed between woodland openings and burned woodlands, weedy fields produced two to five times more insects than other habitat types. Insects were most scarce in corn fields.

Fallow areas dominated by broadleaved weeds and the bugs these areas host are crucial for quail broods and heavily used by adults in the spring and summer. Weedy patches that provide both overhead cover and bare ground, like that pictured above, may be your best bet for growing more quail. Next week we’ll take a look at how to accomplish that!


I have been actively apart of quail resoration in my area. We have a testing area on a piece of property that we try different techniques on to implement to a larger scale on private landowners. Just last summer @ late July and August we disturbed several strips that were left as bare ground within our quail focus area. This spring we are seeing an abundance of ragweed and other forbes growing in those areas that we plan to leave fallow for the yr. So it does work. Another trick we found that has a dual purpose is to plant wheat strips 20ft wide in and around areas of WSG we plan to burn in the fall, we gain a green firelane and by disturbing the soil when planting we enhanced a growth of forbes the following spring. We are leaving the wheat to mature and fallowing out those areas for a yr, it works well and is inexpensive to plant. You also have the option of top dressing small areas of the wheat that winter with a white clover or lespadeza for a bug attract the next spring. Quail love it !

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