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!