Heading For High Ground

Published on: Jun. 26, 2009

Creek CA. Whetstone Creek Conservation Area is one of 19 designated Quail Emphasis Areas. These conservation areas are being intensively managed for bobwhites. Just last year, more than 18,000 acres of habitat work was completed on the 19 Quail Emphasis Areas--from prescribed burning, strip-disking, invasive plant control to food plots. That total doesn't include edge feathering or permittee crop fields that also provide good quail habitat. I'm still working on the total for all public land. In the meantime, check out last year's report to see how much work is being done for bobwhite on private and public land.

I teased the manager and asked him if the picture was from Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, which is a major waterfowl/wetland area in the Central Region. He was a little frustrated since this portion of the area was burned last fall, sprayed to eradicate fescue and then clipped to improve woody cover. Now portions are underwater. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Bobwhite didn't like all that brooding cover. Wishful thinking.

If heavy rains and flooding the past three years wasn't enough, there's always the ice and snow storms to talk about. I bet you can't name one county in Missouri that hasn't been hit by a severe ice storm or covered in blanket of snow for several weeks.

Last year it was south Missouri. Scott County was one big ice cube. Scott County was the first county in the nation to achieve its NBCI habitat goal. In 2007-2008 it was the I-44 corridor and central Missouri. The weatherman must have a bone to pick with north Missouri. North Missouri has been coated in ice, snow and rain all three years. Below is a picture from the Seat Conservation Area in northwest Missouri (a Quail Emphasis Area).

Amazingly, the birds can make it if they have good habitat. If you remember, we didn't lose any radio collared birds in the Davisdale and Locust Creek study after the big ice and snow storms.

Despite the weather, I'm receiving some excellent quail reports from landowners and biologists. The other day I received one from a biologist who's been working with a Bates County landowner to improve quail habitat. He reported that he's never heard so many bobwhites whistling on his farm. He's been fortunate. Most of the rain has somehow missed his farm. Another landowner from north-central Missouri reported hearing 34 whistling bobwhites on his farm that he's intensively manages

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