Bobwhite habitat ideas for landowners

Edge development on Journagan Ranch.

Research on the Journagan Ranch shows that quail flourish where adequate escape cover exists. 

Escape cover is often the very most limiting factor on private property today in the Ozarks. 

Bobwhite quail hold a position in the overall food chain that is not to be envied. Many native and introduced predators (feral cats) are constantly threatening the survival of every quail. 

If the quail do not have thick cover to escape into, we can all guess what happens to the poor bobwhite quail.

If landowners could focus on this one basic habitat need, escape cover, bobwhite quail could possibly increase their numbers in the Ozarks. 

This escape cover must be different than what we think of as “covey headquarters” or “covey loafing areas.” These type habitats are important, too, but quail need escape cover to be thick enough that a human cannot walk through or walk through with great difficulty.  

Several years ago, I owned a farm in Texas County. I focused on burning and managing the blackberry thickets on my property, and within two years my rabbit population had skyrocketed along with the population of bobwhite quail. 

Prior to that I was mowing the thickets every year, removing this critical quail habitat need from the landscape. If escape cover is not present on your property, quail cannot thrive or even exist there for long.

Native grass pasture in mid-summer.

These following practices will help create ideal bobwhite quail habitat:

• Edge feathering — Creating a linear clear-cut along the edges where pastures meet the timber edges. 

As these areas “brush in” over the next few years they will create this thick, dense cover that bobwhite quail need. 

• Livestock exclusion fencing – Thirty to 50 feet or more out away from the timber edge. By letting this area “brush in” over several years, it will create thick, dense cover.

• Dropping cedars – In glade areas after a burn to help create good cover. The next burn will remove these from the landscape, so a manager must be willing to go back into the area after the next burn and repeat this step. 

In this case it is good to leave some of the bigger cedars on the site for this use. Re-establishing fire on the landscape also consumes the thick cover quail need to escape predators.

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *