The backbone of Quail Forever is the unique system of county chapters that provides incentive for chapter leaders to raise money for pheasant habitat in their own area. All net funds (100%) raised by chapters remains at the local level.
Local control of the funds and the freedom to spend those funds means county-by-county prioritization of habitat needs. Local control means access to the network of contacts that chapter leaders have to the landowning public and to natural resources professionals. Local control means there is an incredible incentive to raise more to do more, and to wisely shepherd funds. Local control also means the ability to generate tremendous support from both the general membership and local businesses by presenting a product that local sportsmen and women can see, touch and walk on.
As an open country bird species, quail have the ability to range all over North America. They are able to adapt to a vast array of climates, from Canada to the gulf coast and from the east coast to Colorado. Unfortunately, quail populations have drastically declined over the last 30 years due to a lack of habitat. Quail need grasslands, bare ground, seed-producing plants and shrubs for nesting, food and cover. Urban sprawl and an increase in intensified agriculture have resulting in the largest decrease of quail habitat. Quail Forever concentrates its habitat project efforts on fulfilling the biological needs of the bobwhite, as well as on the preservation of permanent areas for other wildlife. Keep reading for more information on quail habitat structure.
The following information was generously contributed from "On the Edge" a publication of the Conservation Commission of Missouri
Quail need a vast array of types of food in their diet to be thriving during the winter months and to have a high reproductive year during the growing season. This diet consists of crops such as corn, milo, millet, sorghum, sunflowers and soybeans. Receiving a wide variety of these nutrients allows for quail to meet all of their energy needs.
In places with very few types of grassland it is necessary that crop fields use a variety of applications for cropping in order to assist quail populations.
Some examples include:
- Strip cropping - 50 to 100 foot grass strips allow for greater nesting and brood rearing.
- Plant and rotate quail-friendly crops - Crops such as cotton, rice and cucumbers provide few benefits to quail. Rotate various crops such as those listed above. The crops that provide the greatest benefits for quail are corn and milo.
- Create Buffers - These protect against soil erosion as well as provide nesting, brooding and roosting habitat.
- Use less herbicides - herbicides that eradicate all weeds are great for crops, but not for quail. Eliminate use of herbicides on the outer two rows of your fields that allows for quail cover and protection.
- Over-seed winter wheat - Leave the field idle after harvest. This allows for a great brood habitat during the latter summer months and winter.
Grasslands were the primary source of nesting and brooding for quail, when their populations were at climax. Today, grasslands are fewer and far between, but when managed properly it can be used successfully for the improvement of quail populations.
There are a variety of ways in which you can protect and maintain your pastures and grassland for quail populations. If not maintained tall-fescue pastures can be extremely harmful for quail. These can be maintained by planting and protected various shrubs, not mowing your pastures, grazing and over-seeding to encourage seed-producing plants for quail food and disking to reduce tall fescue.
Additional type's grasslands include cool and warm season pasture grasses as well as cool and warm season grass hayfields, all of which provide excellent habitat for quail. These can be maintained in a variety of ways. Planting different varieties of grasses, three-four year burning intervals, controlling woody invaders and planting native legumes and wildflowers allow for a great range of diversity in nesting and brooding cover for quail populations.
Forest and Woodlands
Essential for a quail's winter cover, forest and woodlands are great places for quail to remain concealed and covered from predators as well. Maintain a good forest edge of briars, brambles, grasses and weeds that are ideal for quail on the edge of forests. You can also plant blackberry, plum, greenbriar, coral berry, sumac, grape and rough-leaved dogwood along the outside edge. Allow the forest canopy to be broken in order to establish lower growing plants. This can be done in woodland areas through forest thinning.
Many landowners have idle areas in which land cannot be used for cropland, grazing or haying. These areas can be great assets for quail. They must be maintained and still need disturbance to stay productive for quail. Tall fescue crowds quail and can be removed by using limited herbicides, burning or disking areas. Trees also should be thinned out to allow for greater quail habitat. Too many trees shades out grasses, shrubs, native legumes, wildflowers and annual weeds which quail utilize for cover.
Fencerows and Drainages
Additional habitat for quail can be in fencerows and drainage ditches if it is left undisturbed and populated with fescue, brome and trees. Maintain these by trimming hedges and spraying fescue and trees. Spot spray invading trees and fescue in the fall or spring. Finally, leave your brush piles to provide immediate cover for quail. These allow for quail to walk through, but inhibit large animals from doing the same.
Savannas consist of a scattering of post and blackjack oak trees or short-leaf pine trees as well as variety of shrubs. Ground cover allows for quail to thrive in these areas where grass, legumes and wildflowers are highly abundant. Savannas appear less often than ever and restoring them is hard work. Cutting trees and allowing for periodic burning are the best ways to establish this form of quail habitat.
Recent Habitat News
July 18, 2014
With the reopening of federal Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices this summer, more than 250,000 acres – half the nationwide allotment – have been enrolled in the CRP “Habitat for Upland Birds” practice. This leaves about 250,000 available for signup by landowners, acres that, once enrolled, will improve habitat for bobwhite quail and other wildlife....more
June 25, 2014
Quail hunters and conservationists in the Tulsa, Okla. area have formed the newest Quail Forever chapter in the state. The group, known as the Tall Grass Heritage Quail Forever chapter, becomes the fourth active Quail Forever chapter in the state and the second new chapter to form there this month, part of a resurgent effort led by volunteers to conserve quail habitat and improve the state’s bobwhite quail population....more
June 13, 2014
Avid quail hunters from Oklahoma’s Texas and Beaver Counties have formed the newest Quail Forever chapter in the state. Named the Homesteader Quail Forever chapter - honoring one of the last areas in Oklahoma to be homesteaded - the group will work to improve upland habitat for bobwhite and scaled quail in the Oklahoma Panhandle....more
June 10, 2014
Quail biologists from Missouri recently hosted biologists and natural resource professionals from Nebraska for two days of workshops and tours. Although quail populations nationwide have been on a precipitous decline since the 1980s, quail biologists in Missouri have been able to demonstrate land management practices that have increased quail populations by 100 to 300 percent in the span of only a few years....more
May 22, 2014
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce a summer slate of upland habitat tours and workshops. Currently, there are 15 workshops or tours planned around the state. These events will be hosted by Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists with the assistance of local area partners and statewide partners—Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service....more