Spring 2018 Quail Report

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Quail Forever's State-by-State Review of Winter Conditions and Spring Nesting Potential

By Tom Carpenter
 
Spring is the time of year when an uplander’s hopeful eyes turn toward the countryside with wide eyes and wishful thoughts – looking for birds on the ground and pulling for ideal conditions that will make for a productive nesting season that will fill the habitat with birds come fall.
 
That’s what Quail Forever’s Spring Report is all about: Taking a comprehensive tour of quail country and updating you on the winter past and the potential to come. 
 
As a hunter-conservationist, you know the bottom line: Habitat transcends all, and provides the buffer gamebirds need when winter is tough or nesting conditions get challenging.
 
Stay with The Habitat Mission, and enjoy this Spring Report.
 

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ALABAMA

“Harvest numbers from hunter surveys for the 2017-18 season are not yet available,” says Steven Mitchell, Wildlife Biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), “but are expected to be similar to previous seasons. In most of the state, wild bird densities are still low, and hunter effort and harvest continue to decline from traditional numbers.”
 
“That said, information passed along from quail hunters around the state indicated a better season than the last with more coveys seen,” says Mitchell, “especially on private properties where quail are benefiting from intensive habitat management efforts.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Alabama experienced a cold winter overall,” Mitchell, “with freezing night temperatures persisting through mid-March in the northern half of the state. We received several inches of snow from Montgomery up to Gadsden during mid-January that lasted for a few days, but the short duration shouldn’t have had much of a negative impact on quail. “
“The only negative for the cold temps would be that quail had to move more to find food to satisfy their high metabolism, he adds, “possibly exposing them to more predators. On the flipside, more movement from quail means more scent for a bird dog.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Hopefully, Alabama will not experience any major weather events that will negatively impact quail nesting and production going into spring and summer,” says Mitchell. “In the deep south, weather factors that could hurt quail nesting success and survival are too much rain (cold, extended periods, flooding) and droughts.”
 
“We are receiving consistent rains so far headed into spring, and green-up is already happening. If the rain pattern continues with warmer temperatures, habitat conditions should improve quickly with plenty of nesting cover and bugs for brooding chicks,” he says. “We’re hoping for good quail production.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“As Alabama DCNR efforts continue to establish more opportunities for the small game hunter, a new WMA has recently been established,” says Mitchell. “The Boggy Hollow WMA is a 7,000-acre tract that is part of the official Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), and a Certified NBCI Quail Focal Area.  Located on the Conecuh National Forest near Andalusia, the Boggy Hollow WMA developed from a partnership with the US Forest Service, Quail Forever and National Wild Turkey Federation.” 
 
“We are also excited to continue efforts to improve and expand quail habitat by working with and providing technical assistance to the NRCS to provide cost share opportunities through the Working Lands for Wildlife: Pine Savanna Restoration Project to private landowners wanting to restore or modify habitat to help increase quail populations,” he adds.
 
“We are also working on a couple of wild quail translocation projects on large, intensively managed private properties in Alabama, in cooperation with Tall Timbers Research Station,” Mitchell concludes. “These projects are in early stages, but are showing positive results.”
 

* * * * *

ARIZONA

“Gambel’s quail data is gathered through hunter check stations at two locations just north of Tucson Arizona on the opening weekend of desert quail season” says Wade Zarlingo, Small Game Program Manager, Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Birds harvested/hour and birds/day were both above the 2016 check station numbers with the birds per day harvest right at the 17-year average.”
 
“With dry and hot conditions most of the season, total hunter harvest was most likely lower than average,” says Zarlingo. “The dry conditions presented extra challenges for people that hunted with dogs. Percent juveniles in the harvest was down from the 2016 check stations 1.5 percent, and 3.8 percent below the 17-year average. Through hunter contact, some other areas in central Arizona had a higher percent of juveniles in the bag and higher bird numbers per covey than seen in recent years.” 
 
“Harvest trends for Mearns’ quail are monitored through wing barrels,” he adds. “Mearns’ quail harvest for the 2017-2018 season showed a decline in birds/hour and birds/day compared to the 2016-2017 season, but only slightly below the 39-year average. Interestingly, the percent juveniles in the harvest was 7 percent above the 2016-2017 wing barrel data. Scenting conditions were extremely tough this year with very little moisture and hot temperatures throughout the season.” 
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Winter conditions have been extremely dry, with mild to hot temperatures for this time of year, with very little moisture throughout the state,” says Zarlingo.
 
“A string of late February storms may be enough to maintain Gambel’s quail numbers for the 2018-2019 season and potentially increase scaled quail numbers, depending on brood survival,” he says.
 
“Arizona conducts Gambel’s and scaled quail call counts March through May to track trends in breeding behavior,” adds Zarlingo. “Early numbers for March are not positive, but we may see an increase in mating calls later in the spring due to the late February rains.”
 
“Winter conditions should not have had a negative impact on the breeding Mearns’ quail populations,” Zarlingo concludes. “Mearns’ quail rely on summer moisture for tuber production, nesting and hiding cover.” 
 

* * * * *

ARKANSAS

“I have heard many reports that the 2017-18 quail season was very productive harvest-wise, and even heard the words ‘best season in a long while,’” reports Marcus Asher, Quail Program Coordinator with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“There was no snow or ice to speak of over the winter,” says Asher, “but precipitation was fairly heavy in February and March.  I suspect cold, wet conditions may have caused some added mortality compared to a mild or normal winter.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“As long as our spring weather is not filled with precipitation, I expect similar production numbers as last year,” says Asher.
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“We are improving thousands of acres of habitat on AGFC-owned and partner-owned lands throughout the state,” reports Asher. 
 
“And we are getting lots of inquiries from private landowners interested in implementing habitat on their properties,” he adds. “Our state habitat program (Acres for Wildlife) participation has increased in each of the last three years.  More habitat is being implemented which should lead to more birds to hunt.”
 

* * * * * 

CALIFORNIA 

“Both quail and quail hunters benefitted from a wet winter and early spring in 2016-2017,” reports Katherine Miller, Upland Game Bird Biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
 
“Those conditions promoted growth of vegetation crucial to nest and brooding cover, and produced forage material,” Miller says. “As a result, biologists in California anticipated a good quail season heading into the fall of 2017-2018.  We did not conduct a hunter harvest survey this winter, but we anticipate that the hunting success was good throughout most of the state.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“California experienced a dry winter with mild temperatures, relative to the 30-year normal for the state,” reports Miller. “Most of the rainfall was in March. Overall, this should benefit quail by providing vegetation for cover and food.  If we continue to have periodic rain, it should benefit insect populations, which will be critical for feeding young quail in the breeding season.”
 
“Mountain quail shift their home ranges with the season, and it is possible some recent snowstorms may have impacted those birds that have moved higher in altitude prior to the breeding season,” she says.
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“While we may have late season storms in the mountains, it does appear that most of the state is experiencing spring weather,” says Miller, “with periodic rain and cold temperatures interspersed with warm and sunny conditions.”
 
“We anticipate a slightly above average nesting season,” concludes Miller. “Recruitment will be lower than last summer, but the boom of quail populations from last summer should provide additional breeding adults in most populations.”
 

* * * * *

COLORADO

Harvest data was not available at publication time for Colorado’s 2017-18 upland gamebird hunting seasons.
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Across Colorado’s core quail and pheasant range, there have been no significant winter storms that would impact pheasants and quail,” reports Ed Gorman, Small Game Manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). “However, that means that Colorado is extremely dry right now, which is concerning for the approaching nesting and brooding season.”
 
“It’s difficult to say whether winter is over,’ Gorman continues. “April storms are not uncommon, but generally speaking they are short in duration.  What is concerning for Colorado is if current dry conditions persist habitat conditions could deteriorate rapidly.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Right now, the dry conditions that overlay core upland bird range are concerning,” says Gorman. “If they continue, nesting and brooding hens – both pheasants and quail – could find fairly difficult conditions.”
 
“At this point, though, we just don't know what will happen in the following months,” he says. “What is certain in Colorado is that precipitation fuels both habitat and upland game populations. What happens in terms of precipitation the next few months will play a huge role in determining what next autumn's gamebird populations will be.”
 

* * * * *

FLORIDA

“Hunting success (covey finds and covey size) in south and central Florida was down compared to previous years in 2017-18,” reports Greg Hagan, Northern Bobwhite Coordinator for the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “This was directly related to impacts from Hurricane Irma. In fact, many areas still had significant amounts of water on the ground at the start of hunting season. Areas in north Florida fared much better and where on-par with previous years.”
 
“In general, Florida experienced a typical winter pattern,” says Hagan. “As usual with Florida, quail populations depend on the weather.  Drought conditions or tropical systems can dramatically affect habitat management which, in turn, can negatively impact nesting and brood success. But barring any unfavorable weather conditions, birds are well positioned going into the breeding season.”
 

* * * * *

ILLINOIS

“We don’t have data compiled from the Hunter Harvest Report for the 2017-18 season,” reports Stan McTaggart, Agriculture and Grassland Program Manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). 
 
“This report comes from the Illinois Natural History Survey and they mail postcards to a random group of hunters and then compile the results over the next few months,” McTaggart describes. “Anecdotal evidence from our state Habitat Areas shows mixed results for upland game hunters with some areas doing well and others struggling. In general, areas with active habitat management specific to upland game are doing better than areas with minimal management.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“There was a lot of winter variability across the state this year,” says McTaggart. “Most of the state was very dry throughout the fall and winter, but during February, northern and southern Illinois were wetter than average. Some areas up north had over 20 inches of snow in February. Heavy rains also hit southern Illinois, but much of the central and western parts of the state continued the dry spell.”
 
“At the end of March, much of the state had been colder and wetter than average for the month,” he adds. 
 
“Northern and southern parts of the state had the most precipitation in February and early March,” says McTaggart. “The majority of the state got hit with heavy rains at the end of March.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Nesting season could begin a little later than average” says McTaggart, “and it could provide some challenging conditions for early nesters if the above-average precipitation and cool temperatures continue through April.”
 
“Weather in late April through July will be the most important for nest success for pheasant and quail,” he says. “When the clutches begin to hatch, prolonged or heavy rain events and/or cold snaps can be very tough on chick survival during the first few weeks. I always hope for ‘average’ conditions towards the end of nesting season as chicks appear and are very vulnerable. If we can avoid the weather extremes, we should have much higher nest success and brood survival this spring and summer.”
 
“Keep your fingers crossed!”
 

* * * * *

GEORGIA

“Bobwhites in most areas of Georgia entered the fall season in good condition due to adequate rainfall during the summer months,” reports Jessica McGuire, Program Manager, Game Management with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Numbers were up or steady due to good overwinter survival in 2016-17 and summer conditions for broods last year.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Most of Georgia saw at least two snow events this winter with accumulations of several inches in many areas, even in the southernmost counties,” says McGuire. “Georgia also experienced long spells of temperatures at or below freezing in winter 2017-18.”
 
“This weather pattern was very unusual,” adds McGuire, “and resulted in the loss of cover in some areas at a time when birds needed it the most. Late season hunting reports mentioned fewer coveys, but with birds still in good condition. It is unclear if the weather had any effect on overall mortality.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Reports of calling, and covey’s beginning to break up, began in mid-March,” reports McGuire. “Breeding bird counts will begin in mid-May and should give an indication of this year’s potential. The presence or absence of adequate rainfall during early spring and summer will be a determining factor on this year’s brood survival.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
  
“Funding from Quail Forever chapters through the Georgia/Florida quail coalition provided for habitat management on over 750 acres on public land in Southwest Georgia in 2017,” says McGuire. “This is a great opportunity to work with chapters to improve quail habitat on Georgia’s Wildlife Management Areas and provide better public hunting opportunities.” 
 
“In 2017 over $165,000 was allocated through the USDA/NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife Bobwhite Quail Southern Pine Savanna Restoration Project,” adds McGuire. “Current projections are over $260,000 for habitat work for 2018. Additional funds for these projects is provided through Georgia DNR Bobwhite Quail Initiative license plate sales.  This coordinated program has been very successful in Georgia.”

* * * * *
 

IOWA

WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Statewide snowfall thru March was about at our long-term average, a little above normal in northwestern Iowa and a little below normal across the southern third of Iowa,” reports Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 
 
“Over winter survival should be about average for pheasants, perhaps a little above average for quail in southern Iowa,” Bogenschutz says. “Some spotty ice accumulation in parts of northern Iowa may have impacted local areas.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Well we can always have a late blizzard in the northern part of the state,” says Bogenchutz, “but April should bring some respite from a winter that’s been pesky in the state’s northern counties.”
 
As for nesting, “Birds should hold status quo or perhaps we can even see some increases if mother nature cooperates this spring,” says Bogenschutz.
 

* * * * *

KANSAS

Results from Kansas’ 2017-18 upland bird hunting seasons were not available at publication time (Kansas’s annual hunter survey is in progress), but reports throughout the season were generally fair to good throughout the state, right up through the close of pheasant and quail seasons.
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Kansas is far enough south that winter weather rarely impacts our pheasant populations, although long-lasting heavy snow/ice has been known to impact quail,” says Jeff Prendergast, Small Game Specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “This year, Kansas had a relatively mild winter with almost no measurable snowfall across the state.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Conditions have been extremely dry in Kansas, with little measurable precipitation over the last four to five months,” reports Prendergast. “With little soil moisture available, quality of nesting and brooding habitat will largely depend on precipitation through April, and what kind of grass that moisture can help grow on the landscape.”
 

* * * * *

KENTUCKY

“We had a challenging fall hunting season in Kentucky,” reports John Morgan, quail coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Bird numbers are nearing or at the trough of our 8- to 10-year cycle.  We continued to receive excessive blasts of summer rainfall at inopportune times (early July) which is hindering production. Birds were still found in quality habitat, but generally speaking numbers were down.”  
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“We definitely had winter in Kentucky this year,” says Morgan. “Several snow events and an extended cold snap gave our bobs are dose of winter.  Towards the later winter period, we had extensive rainfall, meaning our primary prescribed burning period could be extremely limited.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Unfortunately, given the winter’s severity and being at the low end of our cycle, the quail breeding population will be on the low side heading into the breeding season,” says Morgan. “On the bright side, in the right breeding conditions, bobwhite can generate substantial increases in numbers, so we are hoping for those favorable breeding conditions.”  
 
“Our summers have been typified by heavy (three-plus-inch) rains during our primary nesting period, the past few years,” says Morgan. “We are asking for a reprieve this summer!”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“We are starting a large-scale radio telemetry project on the Blue Grass Army Depot in partnership with the University of Tennessee,” reports Morgan. “We hope to better understand the connection between cattle and bobwhite in the East pasture system.  Hopefully, we will be able to get some enhanced pasture habitat installed on private lands around the project site to gain even more information if pasture enhancements work to help bobwhite populations.”


* * * * *

MISSISSIPPI

“Quail harvest in Mississippi in the 2017-18 season was increased in some areas and decreased in others compared to previous seasons,” reports Rick Hamrick, Small Game Biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks. “However, available data are few, so it is difficult to make many conclusions based on them. Overall, we probably experienced much variability in hunting success largely as a function of localized habitat quality and hunter access.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“In Mississippi, we experienced sustained periods of cold temperatures for our region during December through January,” says Hamrick. “These colder conditions could have decreased overwinter survival as a result of higher energy demands forcing birds to increase feeding activity and exposure to predators. However, by February, we had much milder temperatures and some of the highest rainfall on record for this month.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“My expectation would be that we experienced lower overwinter survival and will not carry over as many birds to breeding season than if we had a milder mid-winter,” says Hamrick. “However, conditions appeared to line up well last summer for a mostly good quail hatch. So, those factors may counter-balance one another to some degree.”
 
“We are starting off with a mild, wet spring,” he adds, “and if we do not get too dry this summer, we could see another good hatch. Ultimately, suitable quail habitat on a large enough scale to support populations that can sustain good hunting continue to be a significant limiting factor.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“Mississippi continues to conduct its ‘Fire on the Forty’ Initiative,” reports Hamrick. “This program provides cost-share for prescribed burning in certain focal counties but also provides outreach and technical guidance on the application and benefits of prescribed fire.”
 

* * * * *

MISSOURI

“Based on feedback from area managers and hunters, the 2017-18 quail season was good in the northcentral, northwest, and southwestern portions of the state where habitat conditions were good,” reports Dave Hoover, Small Game Coordinator with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“In general, winter conditions where good throughout the state for birds,” says Hoover. “Few widespread heavy snowfall or ice events occurred. The few ice accumulation events were very brief in duration. And temperatures, in general, were normal with only a few brief periods of below zero temperatures.”
 
“The northern third of Missouri saw the worst of extreme winter weather,” Hoover says, “but it could still be considered relatively mild compared to the winters of 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10. “ 
 
He sums it all up as follows: “As with the past three winters, conditions were good to favorable for overwinter survival for quail.  Winter is almost over with spring on the horizon. Short of a late heavy snowfall with artic temperatures, I think we have seen most of what this winter has to offer.” 
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“With conditions good for strong overwinter survival, this nesting season is set up to be a good one,’ says Hoover. “But they all start out that way. The wild card is always the weather. Untimely heavy rains in May and June will set conditions back.”
 
“Habitat is always the greatest limiting factor” he says. “In areas of good habitat, the past three nesting seasons have all been good, with slight increases each year. In areas that don’t have good habitat, it’s the same old song and dance.”
 

* * * * *

NEBRASKA

“Our 2017/18 hunter harvest survey just closed, so it will be a while before I can process the data for harvest estimates, but anecdotal information from quail hunters indicated that success was high across the core range for bobwhites in Nebraska,” reports Dr. Jeff Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager with the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. 
 
“There was less anecdotal information from pheasant hunters,” adds Lusk, “but one quail hunter did comment that he was happily surprised by the number of pheasants they saw while out hunting in southcentral Nebraska.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Weather conditions were moderate this winter in Nebraska,” says Lusk. “There were periodic snow events across the state, but none were of sufficient length or severity to have population-level impacts.”
 
“Early winter temperatures were unseasonably warm,” he continues, “which probably aided gamebird survival.  However, conditions deteriorated mid-winter, with arctic cold settling in for several weeks.  Given the overall shorter ‘cold season’ though, population level impacts are not expected to be significant.”
 
“But winter is still trying to hang on in parts of Nebraska,” Lusk says. “Some late snow and ice would hurt birds.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Nesting success will depend on spring moisture sufficient to support plant growth for nesting cover, but not so much or so late as to affect nesting or brood-rearing,” says Lusk. ‘So far, so good.”


* * * * *

NEW MEXICO

“It was another good year for quail in southeastern New Mexico last season,” says Casey Cardinal, Game Bird Biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
 
“Scaled quail numbers were still high in the area, and provided hunters with average to above average hunting,” she says. “Harvest in the southwest portion of the state was lower, particularly for Gambel’s quail.  Some good-sized coveys of scaled quail were found in the area, but took some searching to find.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Winter was fairly warm and dry in New Mexico,” says Cardinal, “and overwinter survival was likely high.  As drought conditions worsen, quail populations may struggle into spring.”
 
“Current drought conditions could be harmful to populations in the upcoming breeding season,” she says. “Also, spring hail storms or heavy rain events are always a risk for nesting and brood rearing birds.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“If the dry conditions continue, it could be a rough breeding year for quail in New Mexico,” says Cardinal. “Nesting habitat is still available from the late season rains in 2017, but birds may delay breeding, or not breed, if there is little moisture for forb and insect production this spring.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“Oklahoma State University is collaborating with Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative, Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico Game and Fish on a research project studying scaled quail habitat selection and thermal ecology related to habitat management in Eastern New Mexico,” reports Cardinal. “Information from this study could lead to valuable recommendations for scaled quail habitat management in the future.”
 

* * * * *

OHIO

“Preliminary estimates of harvest suggest Ohio’s pheasant and quail harvest in 2017-18 was similar to recent years,” reports Joseph Lautenbach, Wildlife Biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
 
“Preliminary harvest survey data suggests that wild pheasant hunters, on average, spent 3.8 days afield, flushed 5.4 birds, and harvested 1.0 wild birds,” he says. “In comparison, preliminary harvest survey data estimates wild quail hunters in Ohio spent 3.0 days afield, flushed 10.2 wild quail, and harvested 1.1 wild quail this season, on average.”
 

WINTER SUMMARY

“Ohio had some extended snow cover and extreme cold temperature in early January,” says Lautenbach. “We also had several other periods of extended snow cover in January and February. While these types of events are not ideal for pheasants, these conditions have little effect on pheasant survival. On the other hand, extended periods of snow cover can increase quail mortality substantially.” 
 
“Overall, winter conditions were similar to the long-term average throughout much of the state,” he adds. “Southern Ohio experienced some extended periods of snow cover in January and February.”
 
“It seems like spring is on its way,” Lautenbach says. “However, late heavy frosts and cold, wet conditions during the nesting season would likely reduce nest survival.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“If spring and summer temperatures are warm and Ohio doesn’t experience any extreme weather conditions (e.g., heavy rains, flooding, extreme cold), pheasant and quail should have a productive nesting seasons in Ohio’s pheasant and quail range,” says Lautenbach. 
 

* * * * *

OKLAHOMA

“Hunting success for quail was generally down this past season,” reports Derek Wiley, Upland Game Biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “There were pockets of good bird numbers and people were successful, but as a general rule, harvests were down from the prior year.”  
 
“Conditions for hunting were pretty dismal,” Wiley adds. “We stayed warm and exceptionally dry. There are parts of western Oklahoma that haven't seen a tenth of an inch of moisture in over 170 days.  Being this dry is not optimal for anything, much less upland bird hunting.”
 
“But winter does look like it's mostly over,” he adds. “Spring does seem to be here!  We have had some cool mornings but nothing terrible.”
 
“The entire western third of the state is very dry, though.” Wiley says. “That also happens to be our best quail range. Southeastern Oklahoma has had considerable moisture and should be set up well for the spring, at least better than western Oklahoma.”
 
“At the moment if the weather pattern does not shift soon, an abbreviated nesting season could be possible,” warns Wiley. “April and May moisture are necessary for good production and as dry as it is, this could be problematic heading into nesting season.  In our semi-arid western populations, bobwhites are well documented to be tied to rainfall. Hopefully we receive some soon.”
 

* * * * *

OREGON

“Quail and pheasant populations were down for the 2017-18 hunting season,” reports Kelly Walton, Assistant Game Bird Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Pheasant harvest was well below the five-year average, and was at a five-year low in 2017-18.  California quail harvest was up in several areas of western and central Oregon, but was down in northeastern and southeastern Oregon where the previous winter had been harsh.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Winter snow pack was generally below average across the state, although some areas in Northeast Oregon had average snow levels,” says Walton. “The winter was mild in terms of temperature, but winter temperatures and weather did prolong into late March in some areas of eastern Oregon.”
 
“Still, overall mild conditions should result in good overwinter survival of birds,” Walton adds. “It is hard to predict if a late winter storm may still arrive.  The main risk for upland game birds is a late season snow or rain event during hatching.
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Overwinter survival of gamebirds should be relatively high, especially compared to last winter,” says Walton. “The downfall to a mild winter with below average precipitation is that drought may be an issue during the upcoming summer. Adequate moisture is needed for forb and grass growth and good insect abundance, which are both beneficial to nesting and brood survival.”
 

* * * * *

PENNSYLVANIA

“Our Northern Bobwhite Quail Recovery Program is moving ahead,” reports Klinger. “We have been working closely with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and have selected Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) in Franklin County PA, as our first Bobwhite Quail Focus Area (BQFA).”
 
“A Memo of Understanding between LEAD and the Pennsylvania Game Commission has been signed,” he says. “In addition, the PGC is working closely with Quail Forever on this recovery effort.  A habitat management plan is in place at LEAD and the Army is committed to helping restore bobwhites to Pennsylvania.”
 
“We hope to be able to have met our habitat goals at LEAD no later than 2020,” concludes Klinger. “A trap and transfer of wild northern bobwhites will be needed to restore wild populations in Pennsylvania.”
 

* * * * *

SOUTH CAROLINA

WINTER SUMMARY
 
“It was a favorable year for quail overall in South Carolina,” according to Michael Hook, Small Game Program Leader with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “It was much cooler than the prior year’s unseasonably warm winter. We had an extremely cold snap at the end of December into early January, but there was no unusual amount of snow cover to impact the birds negatively.”
 
“Overall it was a much more favorable fall and winter than we have experienced in the last few years,” Hook says. 
 
“As always, we are hoping to get timely rains to get the brood cover up and growing for the birds to use shortly,” Hook says. “Most of the state is at normal rainfall, but about half of the state is hovering on drought status. Hopefully we will receive the rain we need in April.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“Overall, I expect an average to good nesting season,” says Hook. “We should have carried over a good crop of birds from the fall and hopefully we will have good nesting and brood habitat developing provided adequate rain in the next couple of weeks.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“Things are going gangbusters with the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative right now,” says Hook. “We recently held our first South Carolina Bobwhite Funding Partnership event and it was a resounding success.”
 
“We are planning several landowner workshops across the state in late May and early June,” Hook adds. “And our new Farm Bill Biologists have been working hand-in-hand with Quail Forever chapters across the state getting the word out about the Initiative.”
 

* * * * *  

TENNESSEE

WINTER SUMMARY
 
“This winter we have had several bouts of snow which have locally been a bit heavy,” reports Roger D. Applegate, State Furbearer, Small Game, and Wildlife Health Program Leader with the  
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
 
“Relative to more recent years, it has been a bit colder,” he continues. “In fact, some areas of the state experienced some snow and freezing rain recently. It is conceivable that some localized areas saw winter mortality of quail that were persisting in marginal habitat. Mostly though, quail have likely fared well.”
 
“The key danger at this point,” he says, “is additional cold weather, snow, ice, or a wet spring with a lot of rain.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“By and large the winter conditions should not have impacted quail numbers over large areas,” says Applegate. “Any impacts were likely local in nature.”
 
HABITAT INITIATIVES
 
“Tennessee quail focus areas are moving forward with habitat management initiatives,” says Applegate. “Many managers are in the midst of spring burning. Several timber harvests are underway and are adding habitat to areas that have been heavily forested for decades.”
 
“Tennessee will be initiating its first National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative Coordinated Implementation Program site at Wolf River Wildlife Management Area near Memphis this year,” adds Applegate. “The agency Quail Restoration Team will be preparing an updated and comprehensive strategic plan in the next several months.”
 

* * * * *

TEXAS

“We haven’t completed any survey work yet on the 2017-18 Texas quail season,” reports Robert Perez, Upland Gamebird Program Leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Anecdotally, it seems like most hunters had a decent season.”
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“But we had a real winter for the first time in a long time here in Texas,” Perez points out. “It seemed like an easy start. But then there was snow and ice in the panhandle, and cold and wet in South Texas. It got harder to find birds. There were reports of whole, dead birds after some of the weather events.”
 
“We sure didn’t lose all the birds, though,” he affirms. “Quail are tough! It’s the drought conditions, and what they do to habitat, that are the real danger.”
 
SPRING UPDATE 
 
“It’s just getting into April,” say Perez. “There’s lots of time for better things to happen. If we get some nice April rains – much needed – that’s going to green things up and grow some grass. Especially up in the panhandle country, where we are in extreme drought conditions, it’s going to be tough if we don’t get some rain.”
 
“Quail can bounce back fast. They’re very productive nesters,” says Perez. “If conditions come together, there are birds on the landscape to produce a good hatch. The average hatch date across Texas – and it’s just an average – is late June in a normal year. We just don’t seem to have many ‘normal’ years anymore though,” he laughs.
 
“With the good numbers of quail we’ve had in Texas the last couple years, we are seeing more people get back into bird hunting in Texas,” concludes Perez, “It would be great to see that momentum keep going.”
 

* * * * *

VIRGINIA

Virginia is doing something right with its quail, especially in areas where the birds receive habitat focus and attention.
 
“I have had some really great hunting reports from last season, though not everybody saw this any birds,” reports Marc Puckett, Small Game Project Leader with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. “One hunting group reported finding 97 unique coveys of quail over the season, and had their best year since they began keeping records 30 years ago. Another group found 85 coveys. In certain areas of the state, it appears there is a modest recovery underway.” 
 
WINTER SUMMARY
 
“Our winter has been long, was unusually cold early on, and we are still getting snow” as of the end of March, says Puckett. “Prolonged snow depth has not been an issue, though. I expect a delayed nesting season and worry a little that the condition of the hens going into the nesting season may be poor. But this can be offset by good conditions throughout the nesting season.”
 
SPRING UPDATE
 
“We are looking forward to a warming trend and hope for good weather during the summer hatching season,” says Puckett.
 
“The upcoming nesting season is hard to predict,” he adds, “but the moisture from the snows should provide good spring plant growth, which should produce good numbers of insects and lead into a good nesting season.”
 
“I suspect due to the long winter and the poor condition of our cover right now that the population will down a bit at the beginning of the nesting season,” Puckett concludes, “but this could be offset by having a great nesting season. On the other side, a drought all summer would up to low quail numbers next fall.”
 
HABITAT INITITIAVES
 
“I remain encouraged by the strong interest we have in our quail program,” says Puckett. “Our private lands biologists stay very busy. Our workshops are well-attended. And I am seeing what I believe is a slight uptick in upland gamebird hunting in Virginia.