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Building a Bobwhite Factory

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 9, 2010

thrived, forming thickets in a draw that often holds a covey of quail.

“Of all the plantings we have done for quail habitat, this has come closest to producing covey headquarters-quality habitat,” says Churan.

His dedication to quail management and his meticulous documentation of every facet of his practical experiments won Churan the 2006 Adopt-A-Covey Award from Quail Unlimited. The resulting cover story in Quail Unlimited Magazine fits perfectly with his commitment to sharing what he learns with other quail enthusiasts. Conservationist readers can find his complete quail management plan and progress report online.

Churan recognizes that not everyone will tackle quail management as aggressively as he and his family have.

“You would have to be nuts to go at it the way we do,” he admits. “We do this stuff almost every weekend. But anyone with an interest in quail management can make a difference using the techniques we are developing.”

Although effective quail management is within the grasp of any landowner, Churan says it does require continuing work. “You can’t just write up a plan, cut a few trees and plant some shrubs,” he says. “Quail habitat is dynamic. You have to keep after it.”

Setting up Headquarters

One of Churan’s major focuses is creating “covey headquarters.” These compact home bases give quail everything they need within a few yards of where they hole up at night and during bad weather.

A covey headquarters typically consists of a brush pile or other piece of durable woody shelter that is surrounded by shrubby cover and is adjacent to a food source, such as a crop field. This is Churan’s gold standard of quail habitat.

He initially thought he would be able to create covey headquarters in five years by building brush piles and planting shrubby cover around them. It turned out to be more complicated than he expected.

“We have had almost 90 percent survival of the trees and shrubs we planted,” says Churan, “but for a long time we had to take a weed whip out into the fields to find them. Rabbits and deer kept nibbling them down to the ground. It took years for the plants to bush out enough that the animals couldn’t gnaw on them so easily. Now you can finally look down a quarter-mile stretch and see rows of shrubs and trees poking up from the grass.”

The Churans learned that making brush piles too robust created ideal homes for rabbits. They have

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