Earth Day—Quail Style
Earth Day 2015 is Wednesday, April 22nd. How do you plan to celebrate it?
Recycling your newspapers? Picking up litter from the roadside? Worthy causes for sure. But how about celebrating an accomplishment for quail restoration in Texas? The demise of the bobwhite across its range has been called “America’s Greatest Wildlife Tragedy” and those of us from blue quail country would toast the same lament for our blues. Abundance has rebounded some this past year, and 2015 looks promising, but what about those areas where no quail are available to “fill the gaps”—even if we have suitable habitat? We believe such areas can benefit from a “transfusion.”
The Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation will be “christening” three new “quail ships” (restoration sites) in Palo Pinto and Stephens counties, and at the Matador WMA in Cottle County. These releases represent our 2015 expansion of “Operation Transfusion” where we translocate wild-trapped quail into recently vacated ranges in an attempt to jump-start their re-establishment. Initial efforts in Stephens County (bobwhites) and at RPQRR (Fisher County; blues) have shown promise for the success of these releases.
I hope you’ll join us for this “news release” as we release several coveys blue quail at the Matador WMA at 10:30 a.m., Wed, Apr 22. I’m sure you’ve seen those black & white photos from the 1950s of a group of eager onlookers mesmerized when a truckload of deer or boxes of wild turkeys were released. We hope to capture that same level of excitement, and hope, for the quail hunting community.
Operation Transfusion is comparing the efficacy of “hard” vs. “soft” releases as it relates to the transplanted quail’s site fidelity, survival, and reproduction. All hens are fitted with radio transmitters to permit their surveillance for six months post-release. Half of the quail are “sequestered” for 30 days in Surrogators; we will be releasing birds from two of the Surrogators on April 22. The sound of whirring wings will undoubtedly rekindle lots of memories.
If/as these latest releases prove successful, we will seek to continue to expand such “transfusions” eastward in 2016 as suitable sites are found.
Operation Transfusion is sponsored by the RPQRF, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service’s Reversing the Quail Decline Initiative (blue quail portion), Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (Matador WMA), and Quail Coalition (especially the Cross timbers and Park Cities chapters).
We hope you’ll be able to join us, and by all means, bring your camera!
Please RSVP with me (email@example.com) by April 10 if you’d like to receive more information about the releases.
RPQRR to host Plant Appreciation Day to honor Ricky Linex
Ok, admit it . . . you’re mostly illiterate . . . when it comes to naming range plants that is! Join us on Friday, May 29 at RPQRR to increase your vocabulary as we toast Ricky Linex’s new field guide to key quail (and deer and livestock) plants. If you haven’t gotten your copy of the field guide (a veritable steal at only $20) you can purchase one at the field day. Our goal will be to see how many of Linex’s plants we can collect in a 4-hour scavenger hunt across the Ranch. Linex is a “giant” to many of us and can always be counted to help out with events at RPQRR, QuailMasters, and Bobwhite Brigade. Should be a fun, educational day punctuated by a lot of singing bobwhites. I hope you’ll join us!
Operation Idiopathic Decline: Texas Tech Researchers Discover Blood-Sucking Parasite Epidemic in Wild Quail
Operation Idiopathic Decline confirmed that bobwhites across the Rolling Plains of Tx and OK are heavily infested with eyeworms and cecal worms. Additional research is underway at the Tx Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University to assess how eyeworms impact flying and foraging ability of quail, and towards the development of a method to treat wild quail for these two roundworms. Here the lead investigator on the project, Dr. Ron Kendall, provides an update.
Operation Idiopathic Decline: Search for the Smoking Gun
The role that disease and parasites may play in quail dynamics has been largely ignored since the 1920s. After the (in our opinion) inexplicable decline of quail in the Rolling Plains, the Board of RPQRF “got serious” about disease and funded a comprehensive project dubbed “Operation Idiopathic Decline.” Currently (as of Feb 2014), the RPQRF has invested $3.4 million into this ground-breaking study of disease and parasites. This webisode explains OID in more depth.
Webisodes - Sounds a quail makes
You’re familiar with the iconic ‘poor-bob-white’ whistle and the memories that such a whistle evokes. But did you know that a bobwhite makes over a dozen different “vocalizations?” Here Dr. Dale Rollins, executive director for the RPQRR and a World Quail Calling Champion (2001) does his a capella renditions of various quail calls and related sounds. Researchers and quail managers often base their “quail counts” on various whistles that the quail make. Learning to interpret these calls (and maybe even mimic them!) can give you a better appreciation of “quail talk” and perhaps even make you a more successful quail hunter.