Original Research: Expert Interview

Bobwhite Quails Project
March 22, 2012

What sound does a bobwhite quail make?  
The male bobwhites make the “bobwhite” call and the females select the male with the best call.

Why should we help bobwhites?  
They eat things that we don’t like such as ticks, grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, ants, and weed seeds. They eat any bugs or seeds lower than knee height.  They help control weeds and pests.  Bobwhites are native to Long Island, but their populations are declining.  They are supposed to live here and are a natural part of our environment that brings balance.

Bobwhite Predators
Bobwhite predators on Long Island include hawks (especially the sharpshin hawk and coopers hawk because they dart in and out of trees), human hunters, screech owls, foxes, snakes may try to eat the eggs, and cats.  One thing we can do is make sure our cats are indoor only.  In areas with indoor/outdoor cats, the cats eat all the ground birds and the tick populations are higher.

Habitat:  Where do bobwhites live?  
They like high grass, shrubs, and leaves.  It’s easy to make quail habitat by leaving some edge of the lawn unmowed.  They like to walk between the forest and field.  They do not live in suburbs because they don’t have hiding place and lots of cats.

What can we do to help the bobwhites?  
We can incubate eggs and create bobwhite habitat.  You need a special permit from New York State to raise and release bobwhites.  We can keep cats indoors or only put them outdoor in jungle gyms like “catios” or on a leash.

Lifecycle:

  • Eggs
  • Chicks (Remember to leave them alone while they’re hatching, they need to struggle out by themselves to be healthy. This can take hour hours.  Then leave them in the incubator until their feathers have dried off.  Once they’re fluffy, move them to the brooder.  The example used was a tank with soil and a heat lamp.  Fill the water with marbles so the chicks don’t drown.  One section needs to be 99F and other sections need to be cooler.  You’ll also need a lid because they can start to fly after 4-5 days.  The lid won’t hold them after 2 weeks because they’ll jump right out!  Once they’re 2 weeks old they need to be moved outside to a cage that is at least 10x10x10’ so they can learn to fly.  )
  • Adult quails are mature at 10 weeks old.  At about 6-8 weeks you can tell whether they’re a boy or girl.  Boys have a white eye-stripe and throat patch with bright white, brown, and black speckles.  Girls are camouflaged with butterscotch eye-stripe and throat patch, speckled on the front, camouflaged like dry leaves on the back.  Both have crest feathers on their head they can raise up.  At 10 weeks old, they are released in the wild.  They will only live to about 3 years old.
Example Artifacts:
Eric Powers showed us part of his nature collection.
Eggs:  Bobwhite, goose, swan, ostrich
Nests:  Woven out of grass with tuft of grass to cover.  They are completely camouflaged.  They only nest on the ground.  They prefer to walk on the ground or run and will only occasionally fly short distances.
Pheasant wing:  Similar camouflage to bobwhites
Bird bone:  They are hollow to allow for flight.
Pheasant feet: Similar to bobwhites with three toes in the front and one in the back