Quail Chick

The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests late summer is a good time to evaluate quail habitat on farms.

The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests late summer is a good time to evaluate quail habitat on farms.

The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests late summer is a good time to evaluate quail habitat on farms. Kyle Hedges, wildlife management biologist, said new Missouri quail research has shown that more than 35 percent of all quail nests are set to hatch in August. He said August is critically important for those adult birds that had a previous failed nest or did not nest until late summer. In addition, many young broods from nests that hatched in July are feeding and growing. He encourages farmers and landowners to be cautious about mowing grassy or weedy spots in field edges and pastures as some may conceal young birds that will mature in winter. He said to avoid or postpone unnecessary mowing to boost quail numbers.

The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests late summer is a good time to evaluate quail habitat on farms.

Kyle Hedges, wildlife management biologist, said new Missouri quail research has shown that more than 35 percent of all quail nests are set to hatch in August.

He said August is critically important for those adult birds that had a previous failed nest or did not nest until late summer.

In addition, many young broods from nests that hatched in July are feeding and growing.

He encourages farmers and landowners to be cautious about mowing grassy or weedy spots in field edges and pastures as some may conceal young birds that will mature in winter. He said to avoid or postpone unnecessary mowing to boost quail numbers.

“Oftentimes, it is this late summer season when people start mowing odd areas and they wipe out decent cover,” Hedges said.

Bobwhite quail need quality places to feed, rear young and hide from predators.

Hedges said late summer is a good time to evaluate the plant mix and whether it is a cover strip beside a field or an entire pasture.

He said habitat can include a mix of forbs such as native wildflowers as well as grasses.

The wildflowers host insects and provide seeds that broods and coveys need for food. They also provide openness at ground level that helps birds easily move around to feed or escape predators.

He said late summer also is a good time to spot spray and eliminate invasive species such as

sericea lespedeza.

A late summer need for quail is thickets with shrubs that provide both shade and air flow at ground level such as wild plum, sumac, rough-leaved dogwood or blackberry.

MDC staff can help agricultural producers grow quail habitat. In some cases, cost share programs for habitat improvement are available.

“I would much rather see a farm now than in December,” Hedges said. “I can get a better feel for what is lacking, which most of the time is good brood habitat.”

Landowners are encouraged to contact their local conservation agent or get tips on bobwhite quail habitat management online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z8Q.