Woodland Wildlife

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

the areas and planting pine trees among the remaining oaks.

Short leaf pine seed is a favorite food of bobwhite quail, and the oak trees provide a dependable source of carbohydrates that quail and other wildlife species require during late fall and winter.

Prescribed fire is an important component of restoration here, as it is at White River Trace and Cover Prairie. It encourages growth of valuable herbaceous plant cover.

Quail whistle counts on the restoration areas and visitor reports indicate that the management is already showing success. Although no coveys were known to be on the area four years ago—before restoration—several coveys have been observed during the past year.

Quail numbers may decrease slightly as plant succession proceeds from an early successional stage to open woodland, but quail should continue to flourish as long as open woodlands can be maintained.

Although the Missouri Ozarks now contain relatively little of the prime open woodlands that once supported large numbers of quail, efforts are underway on public land to restore as much of this valuable habitat as possible.

Biologists are optimistic that, with restoration of woodland landscapes in the Ozarks, Missouri citizens will see an increase in the numbers of quail and other species that depend on these natural communities. As one biologist put it, “If we build it, they will come.”

For More Quail

To learn more about managing quail on your land, go online at

For a free publication on quail management, write to MDC, "On The Edge," P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or e-mail

Prescribed Burn Safety Tips

Learn how to conduct a prescribed burn. Your regional MDC office can give information on prescribed burn training in your area (see page 1 for regional office phone numbers). You will learn how to use fire to accomplish management goals, how to write a burn plan and techniques to conduct a burn safely.

If you don't feel comfortable doing the burn yourself, hire a qualified conservation contractor to do it for you.

Prepare a burn plan and stick to it. The plan should outline what you want to accomplish with the burn, the conditions needed to conduct the burn safely and what resources you will need. If the conditions of the burn plan cannot be met on the day of the burn, postpone it.

Prepare for the burn. Put in fire breaks, gather needed equipment and make arrangements with the appropriate number of people to help out.

Check the weather. Fire behavior is largely influenced by weather and can become dangerous when humidity drops and wind speed increases. Call off the burn if the weather forecast doesn't match your burn plan.

Prior to the burn, contact your local fire department. Check if burning is permitted and be sure to tell them the specifics of your burn plan: where you will be burning, for how long and in what type of fuel. Notify neighbors of your plans to burn.

If the fire escapes your control, contact your local fire department or MDC office immediately. You can be held liable for damages to neighboring land and structures if your fire escapes.

More Quail-Friendly Forest Management Techniques

Opening the forest canopy allows sunlight to reach the forest floor. This stimulates growth of shrubs and grasses, creating favorable habitat for quail and other wildlife. Prescribed fire is just one of the techniques you can use to accomplish this. Your local private lands conservationist, forester, conservation agent or wildlife biologist can recommend others (see page 1 for regional office phone numbers). Here are several you might consider:

Edge feathering is a great way to provide escape cover for wildlife. Cut trees in a strip 50 feet wide around the forest perimeter. Leave the tops of the trees for cover. Within a few years, weeds and shrubs will grow through the downed trees, creating ideal habitat.

Timber stand improvement (TSI) is the process of thinning the forest of poorer trees, leaving less competition for those remaining. Many use TSI to obtain firewood and improve timber quality, but it also creates small gaps in the forest canopy.

Timber harvest is a cost-effective way to create quail habitat. Trees can be cut for firewood or sold for lumber. In small forests, consider using group cuts. If your forest is more extensive, you might use small clear cuts. Both will create patches of habitat for quail and other wildlife

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