A small and elusive bird, the Bobwhite Quail still makes itself heard!
Bobwhite Quail are one of Maryland’s most important upland game birds. While smaller than the more popular Turkey, Bobwhites are still high on the list of an important species in wildlife-dependent recreation.
Bobwhites so get their name due to the high pitched call most often uttered by males during the breeding season. The two sharp, whistled notes sound like “bob-white” or “poor, bob-white.” This call can travel quite the distance coming from a bird the size of a grapefruit!
They live in open pine forests, overgrown fields, shrubby areas, and grasslands where they feast on small insects and grass seeds. Groups, called coveys, travel together while foraging. Coveys may consist of up to 20 individuals.
Being tiny, they have many predators – hawks, owls, raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes, and snakes will all take an adult quail with little difficulty. The baby quail are at even more of a risk being only the size of a pink rubber eraser!
Bobwhite Quail are prolific breeders. They can have 2-3 broods in a breeding seasons, which totals to about 25 or more offspring a season. This breeding strategy is important as most only live to be about 5 years old. The average is actually closer to 6 months due to predation and habitat loss.
Many people keep and breed quail for eggs, eating, and hunting purposes. It comes with challenges though as Bobwhite are one of the most flighty species of quail and they often escape from their enclosures or hurt themselves when they fly straight up into the air (defensive strategy) and bump their head on the roof of the coop. Captive bred and raised Bobwhites tend to settle down after getting used to their caretaker.