The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Bicycling down a gravel road at 10 miles an hour or so, you can hear and see things that you might miss in a truck. I've heard and seen a few bobwhites this spring, while biking and the weather has been helpful as far as nesting goes, so maybe we'll have a few more of these birds come fall. The bobwhite has fallen on hard times in recent years. According to Cornell, “Despite their sharp population decline, it’s still possible to find Northern Bobwhite in fields, range lands, and open forests over much of their range. Their call is one of the easiest to learn of all bird sounds. The two sharp, whistled notes really do sound like “bob-white!”—and the call carries a long distance, so if bobwhite are around, you will probably know it long before you see them.”
Northern bobwhites are primarily seed eaters, foraging on blackberries, wild grapes, grass seeds, ragweed seeds and many wild legumes such as beggars ticks, partridge pea and wild lespedeza. In spring they eat green plants, and during nesting and brood-rearing times insects and other invertebrates are major food items, particularly for chicks. In winter, acorns and pine seeds are important. Corn and beans can provide nutrition when native foods are unavailable.
Quail do best in early successional growth, as opposed to mature woods. Northern Bobwhites were once a common species in eastern North America, but experienced widespread, sharp declines between 1966 to 2014, up to 4% per year, resulting in a cumulative decline of 85%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
Birds are often indicators of overall landscape health. That should be of concern to all of us.