Erath Co. Quail Restoration Effort “Moving the Needle” on Translocation

By November 2, 2020 Articles

by John Palarski

We were pleased to find a late nest on October 5th at our Erath County translocation site, especially since we define the nesting season to be from May 1 – Sept 1. At RPQRR, we sometimes find late nests in September, but finding a nest in October is very unusual at this latitude. The hen that laid the nest was translocated this past year from south Texas. We suspect the latitudinal difference between source and release site may have played a role in this late attempt. Of note, this was the hen’s third nesting attempt. She hatched her first nest but failed on her second.

Fortunately, the hen hatched all her 6 eggs on October 18th, making this her second successful hatch of the year. Approximately one week after the hatch, I was able to get a video of her and her chicks. After reviewing the footage, I noticed that there were 9 individual chicks, not just 6. This means that we had TWO different hatches in the same general location around October 18th. This is a pretty remarkable feat, especially from translocated bobwhite!

During this past year’s translocation effort, we radiomarked the majority of the hens to monitor reproduction post-release. However, we still had a significant number of unmarked hens that we could not monitor. Using our nesting data from this year, we estimate our translocated birds contributed 81 nests that put 417 chicks onto the landscape. As such, bird sightings have become frequent on the release site and preliminary covey counts reflect a population increase from last year! We look forward to a third year of translocation in March 2021.

(John presented his data last month (Oct. 7) to the TPWD Upland Game Bird Advisory Committee. I’m convinced his data have moved the needle on the topic of translocating wild quails in Texas. Please see our call for quail donors as we seek to maintain that momentum by documenting additional successes and compiling best management practices. – DR)