(Frequently Asked Quail Questions)

What kinds of diseases are quail susceptible too?

Q: What kinds of diseases are quail susceptible too?

A: Quail, like all animals including humans, are susceptible to a number of different diseases (including parasites). Much of the current research on disease susceptibility actually comes from the poultry industry using pen-raised bobwhites. Thus, for some diseases quail are known to be susceptible, but there is limited data on the prevalence of the disease in wild populations. Similarly, some diseases we know to be highly lethal to pen-raised birds, but have only been documented in wild birds through the presence of antibodies (i.e. the bird was exposed to the pathogen at some point in its life, but is not actively infected) versus an active infection. See the table below for a broad overview of the types of diseases and parasites that can infect quail. For an in depth discussion I recommend the chapter titled “Diseases and Parasites of Texas Quails” by Markus Peterson in the book, Texas Quails.

Q: What are the most common diseases of quail?

A: Overall in the current state of disease research, the internal worm parasites are the most commonly documented diseases of quail (although these research results come with the caveat that these parasites are also looked for more frequently than other microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoans). One cecal worm in particular, Aulonocephalus pennula, has been found at infection rates of up to 90% in a single population. This cecal worm has also been found almost ubiquitously in populations across Texas in both bobwhites and scaled (blue) quail. Despite this potential harmful effects on individual birds or population level effects are still unknown. Eye worms, Oxyspirura petrowi, are also commonly found throughout the Rolling Plains ecoregion with infection rates up to 80% (See Eye worm FAQQ page). Another common pathogen we discovered during sample for Operation Idiopathic Decline, was coccidia, the causative disease agent in coccidiosis, with infection rates of approximately 50% across the Rolling Plains. Hippoboscid flies, which can transmit avian malaria, are commonly found on scaled (blue) quail in the western Edwards Plateau and Trans-Pecos, however the rate of avian malaria infections in these areas is unknown.

Q: Could disease affect population numbers?

A: The short answer is “yes,” but it has not been documented (nor researched in quail, yet). The best example of a disease or parasite regulating a gamebird population is in Scotland with red grouse and a pathogenic cecal worm (Trichstrogylus tenuis). What researchers found was that the higher the infection of cecal worms a grouse harbored the lower it’s probability of reproducing that year. In that way, populations with higher infection rates overall were raising fewer chicks and thus declining in population size. Researchers experimentally proved that by eliminating the cecal worm they could boost reproduction in these populations, thereby taking the “bust” years out the of the annual population cycle. Our ongoing research with eyeworms and cecal worms will be experimental tests of the red grouse hypothesis.

Does supplemental feeding increase predation risk for quail?

When considering the potential impacts of a supplemental feeding management plan, it is important to consider that increased predation risk could manifest in two areas of a quail’s life cycle: lower nest survival or lower adult quail survival. 

Q: Does supplemental feeding increase nest predation?

A: It can. Supplemental feed concentrates mammalian predators, such as raccoons, skunks, or hogs, into a small location. These predators are very efficient at finding nests through their sense of smell and, although they are not coming to the location in search of nests, they come across more nests just by happenstance because of the predator concentration in the area. Research indicates that a supplemental feeding location can impact survival rates of nests within a radius of at least 400 yards. Depending on the density of feeders on a property, overall impacts to nest survival may be negligible or significant. Another factor to consider is that supplemental feeding may increase survival of nest predators thereby increasing the overall predator population and thus, predation pressure on nesting quail.

Q: Does supplemental feeding increase predation on adult quail?

A: Maybe. There is no consensus in the scientific literature on this question. Studies have found that supplemental feeding targeted for quail has increased survival, decreased survival, or had no effect (sometimes researchers found contrasting results between years on the same site within the same study). However, there are some emerging patterns and the differences in results likely lie in the implementation of the feeding programs and the background environmental factors. Biologists do agree on the mechanism through which feeding may predispose adult quail to predation. When quail are drawn to a food source they become predictable to predators (i.e. likely hawks or bobcats in this situation) and are often exposed making them vulnerable. Feeding programs that minimize the concentration and/or exposure of quail are more likely to have the intended benefits, such as broadcast feeding (see below).

Q: What are best management practices to minimize predation risk on quail nests near feeders?

A: The easiest way to minimize predation risk on nests is to simply not feed during nesting season, April through August. If you would like to provide feed or are feeding for other species, consider locating feeders in areas that are not prime nesting habitat. Trapping for small mammalian predators may be another option to minimize predation impacts, but keep in mind that trapping programs are often ineffective. Trapping or other forms of lethal control must be intensive, regular, and cover a large area to have the desired effect.

Q: What are best management practices to minimize predation risk on adult quail as a result of supplemental feeding?

A: When developing a supplemental feeding program care should be taken to minimize the concentration of quail and their exposure to predation (both from the ground and from the air).

One method is to broadcast feed or scatter feed widely in areas with brush cover. Managers can distribute feed throughout a pasture (i.e. off road) or distribute feed in to the brush adjacent to the road. This method minimizes quail congregation and allows quail to feed without leaving cover. Feeding quail directly in the road may leave them vulnerable to avian predators. There could be ancillary benefits to broadcast feeding in the brush as well. Researchers at Tall Timbers found that broadcast feeding accomplished their intended goals of boosting quail survival, but in an indirect manner. Broadcast feeding increased the rodent population which then acted as a buffer species (i.e. predators consumed more small mammals thereby easing predation pressure on quail).

On RPQRR we make use of Currie or barrel quail feeders (see supplemental feeding FAQQ) for supplemental feeding. However, our barrels are carefully concealed to help minimize predation risk. When placing feed stations on the landscape try to find dense brush cover that will help conceal quail from predators. Placing the feeder itself in concealing brush is important as well as making sure that there is escape cover in close proximity surrounding the feeder. Quail make use of this cover as they journey to feed in the mornings and evenings. It also provides refuge from avian predators if they are detected at the feeder.

Q: Can management mitigate some of the predation risks from supplemental feeding of supplemental feeding?

A: Yes!  Supplemental feeding may concentrate potential predators of quail, especially raccoons.  Such feeding sites can be used to increase efficiency of raccoon-reducation attempts.  Placing 2-4 “cage traps” and several “dog-proof” traps near feeders on a pewriodical basis can be used to reduce raccoons.  Use game cameras to provide surveillance of your quail (or deer) feeders to indicate if trapping would be warranted.

How can I restock quail populations on my property?

Q: Is it better to restock with pen-raised or wild-caught translocated birds?

A: There are challenges and drawbacks associated with both. In general pen-raised birds are cheaper and easier to obtain, but wholly ineffective at reestablishing quail populations beyond a simple “put and take” model (i.e. releasing immediately prior to shooting). For more discussion on pen-raised birds refer to the FAQQ. For the purpose of this FAQQ we will focus on wild-caught translocated birds. Recent research on RPQRR and elsewhere has shown that translocation can be effective.  However, currently more research is needed to determine what factors contribute to translocation success in quails and all past translocations of quail in Texas have been research driven (in contrast to management driven).

Q: Specifically, what is translocation?

A: Translocation is the intentional capture, movement, and release of wildlife from one site to another. Translocation can be used to establish populations in new ranges where they previously did not exist, to reestablish populations where they have gone extinct, or augment populations that are dwindling. Historically, translocation has been used to establish many game species outside of their range in North America (e.g. Brook and rainbow trout in the west, pheasants throughout the Mid-west, or California quail in Montana). However, given the potential for far-reaching, disastrous ecological impacts that many historical introductions have demonstrated, the establishment of species outside of their native range is frowned upon today. Most commonly today, translocations are used to reestablish wildlife populations within native ranges. This has successfully been used for many game species in Texas, including wild turkeys and white-tailed deer. Outside of Texas, populations of popular gamebird species such as sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse, and mountain quail have been the beneficiaries of translocation efforts. Less commonly, translocation can be used to augment declining populations of wildlife before they go extinct. Although it is less commonly used, augmentation has potential to be more successful than reestablishing populations from zero because newly released animals are able to observe conspecifics (i.e., other members of the same species) and potentially fewer translocated animals will be needed to make an impact.

Q: What is a TTT permit?

A: TTT stands for trap, transport, and transplant. As the state game agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) administers all TTT operations. A TTT permit from TPWD “authorizes certain game animals to be trapped from properties with excess population numbers and relocated to properties with sufficient habitat to support the additional animals” (see TPWD’s TTT permit page. 

Q: Can I get a TTT permit for quail?

A: Maybe. Currently, there have not been any TTT permits granted by TPWD to private landowners for quail, but given the recent research demonstrating the feasibility of translocation and mounting national interest in translocation as a tool to restore wild quail populations there may be TTTs granted for quail in the future. To get a better understanding of your eligibility review TPWD’s The Upland Game Bird Management Handbook for Texas Landowers.

Q: What is the minimum property size for a TTT?

A: The minimum property size considered is 1,000 acres of habitat. The preferred property size is 3,500 acres of habitat. It is worth noting that these acres to do have to be owned by the same individual, thus conservation cooperatives or other groups of landowners that are made up of contiguous properties (i.e. share fence lines) may be eligible to apply jointly.

Q: Where can I find a TTT conservation partner?

A: Right here! RPQRF is willing to help facilitate official TTT efforts for private landowners. We have the infrastructure and knowledgeable staff available to help at any stage of the TTT planning and implementation process.

What is the Softball Habitat Evaluation Technique?

Q: What is the Softball Habitat Evaluation Technique?

A: Developed by Dr. Rollins and abbreviate SHET for short (be careful with your enunciation!), this technique is a good way to visualize and communicate what habitat for quail should look like. It is based on the premise that there are many corollaries between the game of softball and the realities of being a quail and creating quail habitat.  It is not a formal evaluation, but this analogy can help the land owner or land manager visualize what good quality quail habitat looks like and what quail need. Most people are familiar with the game of softball, but may have a difficult time visualizing what a biologist is talking about when they say that you need a mosaic of different land covers to provide quail habitat. You may even want to use this technique to communicate with contractors to help them visualize what you want to achieve with your habitat management.

Q: What are the corollaries between the game of softball and quail?

A: A quail is about the same size as a softball and, similar to a softball on the field, whenever either is exposed something or someone is trying to catch it or whack it. If you examine a typical slow-pitch softball, you may see the words “restricted flight.” It is by design that you cannot hit a softball as far as a baseball.  Quail also have “restricted flight”—their light-colored breast muscle prohibits them from flying as far as some other birds (e.g., the dark breast muscle of a mourning dove). Although quail can fly quickly, they are only able to fly a short distance before seeking cover. As such, a quail needs escape cover, or a quail house, about every softball throw apart. If you can visualize how far you can throw a softball, you’ll understand about how far apart escape cover should be on the landscape to make good quail habitat. In other words, you should be able to throw a softball from one brush covert (“quail house)” to another across the pasture.

The game of softball can also be used to visual what good quality nesting cover should look like. Quail need a high density of bunchgrasses (> 250 clumps/acre) to provide nesting cover or about 25-30 nesting sites in the area of the infield. Ideally, those bunchgrasses should be about the size of home plate and prickly pear should be about the size of both batter’s boxes to provide nesting cover.                                        

If you pitch the softball (about 46 ft) it should roll a short distance and then be obscured by the grass cover or other herbaceous cover on the ground. This indicates that the ground cover is thick enough to provide visual protection from predators, but not too thick to impede movement by ground-dwelling quail. If the ball “sticks” rather than bounces after you pitch it, this indicates that the ground cover may be too thick. If the ball is still visible from that distance, this indicates that you may need to reduce your stocking rate of livestock to provide sufficient ground cover.

Other similarities between bobwhites and softball include:

  • 12-15 members are on a softball team and in a covey of quail
  • Someone stands behind home plate (i.e., the umpire) to interpret the rules of the game.  He decides who’s “safe”, what a “strike” is, and other aspects of the game.  So, who is the umpire in the game of SHET??  Look in the mirror!

What is the status of quail in my area of TX?

Rolling Plains
The Rolling Plains encompasses approximately 24 million acres and is occupied by bobwhite and scaled quail. The Rolling Plains of Texas hosts the highest long-term mean of bobwhite abundance across the state, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife annual roadside surveys. During good years, hunters can expect a bird per acre, or more, on managed areas. Scaled quail are also very abundant in certain parts of this region (mostly western). Like most quail populations in semi-arid ecoregions of Texas, populations for both quail species fluctuate greatly by site and year. For long-term trends and annual forecast for the Rolling Plains, see: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/rolling_plains/
High Plains
Situated north and west of the Rolling Plains, the High Plains (ca. 20 million acres) of Texas also hosts good populations of both bobwhite scaled quail. Thus, the High Plains offers another great destination for hunting for either species. Good hunting can afford a bird per acre during good years. Like the Rolling Plains, however, populations fluctuate greatly depending on habitat quality and rainfall each year. For long-term trends and annual forecast for the High Plains, see: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/high_plains/
South Texas Plains
The South Texas Plains (ca. 20 million acres) is another iconic destination for hunting wild quail. Populations of bobwhite are on par with the Rolling Plains and High Plains, but scaled quail populations tend to be more scattered and concentrated in certain areas. For long-term trends and annual forecast for the South Texas Plains, see: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/south_texas_plains/
Trans Pecos
The Trans Pecos ecoregion is roughly 19 million acres and home to all 4 native species of quail in Texas– Bobwhite, Scaled, Gambel’s, and Montezuma quail. Bobwhite are not common west of the Pecos River and are occasionally only found in this region at low densities. Scaled quail are the most popular game species in this region. For long-term trends and forecasts for scaled quail, see: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/trans_pecos/
The Trans Pecos ecoregion of Texas is also home to Gambel’s quail– a game species mainly occupying areas along the Rio Grande River. Gambel’s quail populations in the region are considered to be stable. Roadside surveys by Texas Parks and Wildlife are not conducted for Gambel’s quail, and thus an annual forecast is not available. Long-term trends for Gambel’s quail can be found at:
Montezuma quail (also known as Mearns quail, Fools quail, Harlequin quail, and Clown quail) are an elusive specie occupying areas in and around the Davis, Del Norte, and Glass Mountains. As such, population trends of Montezuma quail have been poorly documented and are not widely available. Montezuma quail are protected in Texas and may not be hunted. Current efforts to learn more about Montezuma quail in Texas are being pursued by both the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and Borderlands Research Institute.
For more information see:
Edwards Plateau
The Edwards Plateau hosts 3 of the 4 native quail species in Texas– bobwhite, scaled, and Montezuma quail. Bobwhite populations in this regions offer fair to good hunting, where habitat exists and during favorable years. Scaled quail may also provide hunting opportunity in certain parts of the region. Populations of Montezuma quail are known to occur in Edwards, Val Verde, and Kinney counties, but similar to other species have suffered population declines due to loss of habitat. For more information on long-term trends on bobwhite and scaled quail in the Edwards Plateau, see: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/edwards_plateau/
Gulf Coast Prairies
The Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes encompass about 24 million acres bordering the gulf coast. The largest threat to bobwhite population in this area may be the conversion of native rangelands to improved pastures for cattle and intensification of other agricultural practices. Bobwhite hunting can be good (upwards to a bird / acre) on areas managing for quail during favorable years. For more information on long-term trends and forecasts in this region, see:
Cross Timbers and Prairies
The Cross Timbers and Prairies historically afforded great bobwhite hunting, but general population trends have descended rapidly since 1994. Rainfall during the early 1990s in the region was average to above average and does not explain the steep declines. Chronic habitat loss and fragmentation due to changes in land use has been considered the main cause of the decline. Like many regions, pockets of well-managed habitat still offer fair to good wild bobwhite hunting opportunities during favorable years. In these situations, one could expect a property to approach a bird per acre, but relative few areas host these bird densities.
East Texas Piney Woods
The East Texas Piney Woods once offered good hunting for bobwhite in the state, but wild populations are sparse and-or extirpated across most of the region, today. Wild, huntable populations are extremely rare. Roadside surveys initiated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1976 were discontinued in this region in 1988. The main cause of the decline in this region is attributed to habitat loss through changes in land use. Most notable land use changes have been the conversion of native forests to commercial timber operations, planting exotic grasses for grazing, and suppression of fire on natural areas.
Blackland Prairies
The Blackland Prairies ecoregion of Texas historically hosted good populations of bobwhite and offered decent hunting opportunities. Similar to the East Texas Piney Woods and Post Oak Savannah ecoregions, bobwhite populations are sparse and-or extirpated across most of the region. Likewise, roadside surveys initiated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1976 were discontinued in this region in 1988. The main cause of the decline in this region is also attributed to habitat loss through changes in land use. Conversion of native range to exotic grasses for grazing and hay production have been one of the most influential land use changes in this region. Urbanization has also been a large source of habitat loss for this region.
Post Oak Savannah
The Post Oak Savannah stretches from Northeast Texas to Southcentral Texas across about 8.5 million acres. Because of low bobwhite populations in the area, roadside surveys initiated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1976 were discontinued in this region in 1988. Historic bobwhite populations in this area were fair, but never considered among the prime bobwhite regions in the state. Roadside surveys during 1976–1987 only averaged about 5 birds per route, but some areas offered good hunting opportunities. Small, isolated populations of wild bobwhite currently exist, with few hunting opportunities. Conversion of native range to exotic grasses for grazing and hay production have been one of the most influential land use changes in this region. Urbanization is also a large source of habitat loss in this region.
For survey results for specific areas, see Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) Index:
Also, Texas Parks and Wildlife roadside index:

What causes “rice breast” in quail?

Rice breast is a term hunters often use to describe white specks in meat of harvested game. Unlike rice breast in ducks, which is caused by a protozoan pathogen, rice breast in quail is caused by larval nematodes (i.e., round worms) of the genus Physaloptera. The particular species which occurs in quails is unknown because morphological characteristics of the worm at this stage of its life cycle are not reliable metrics for identification. It is likely that the species occurring in quails is Physaloptera rara, given its prevalence in mammals where quail infections typically occur. The white specs surrounding the encysted worms are granulomas.
Q: How common is Physaloptera infection in quails?
A: Physaloptera appears to be most prevalent in bobwhite and scaled quail on western ranges, and no reports of Physaloptera have been documented in quail east of the Mississippi. Physaloptera has not been documented in Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) or Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae). According to the limited number of cases reported in the literature, it appears that Physaloptera infections are more common during years of higher bobwhite abundance. Average prevalence across studies is 9%, but depends on year and location (see Table). This estimate is admittedly high, however, because it does not take into account surveys where Physaloptera were not documented.
Q: Is it safe to consume quail with Physaloptera?
A: Human infection with Physaloptera is extremely rare, and it is suggested that removing the worms with a sharp knife in conjunction with thorough cooking renders the meat edible. With that being said, given the low prevalence of Physaloptera, it wouldn’t hurt to err on the side of caution and discard the meat.
Q: How do quail become infected with Physaloptera?
A: Physaloptera nematodes have an indirect lifecycle and quail become infected by consuming an infected arthropod. The arthropod(s) which serves as an intermediate host(s) is (are) unknown. One author suggested that red harvester ants could serve this role because Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum), whose diets are largely comprised of harvester ants, are also known to be infected with the parasite.
Q: Are quail affected by Physaloptera?
A: The white specs seen in meat (which is not limited to the breast muscles, but can be found in leg meat as well) are granulomas, which are the result of an immune response. This response is similar to that of a human with a splinter. Of the few documented reports of Physaloptera in quail, only one has noted edema (i.e., swelling) associated with infection. In this case, the bird was still a healthy weight and exhibited normal behavior. There is no evidence that suggests Physaloptera affects quail at the population level.
Surveys reporting the prevalence and range of Physaloptera in northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata).
Sample Size
Prevalence No. (%)
Boggs et al. 1990
5 (8)
Bruno et al. 2018a
11 (7)
Cram 1931
Case Report
Dixon and Roberson 1967
Case Report
Jackson and Green 1965a
38 (17)
Kalyanasundaram et al 2018a
11 (7)
Olsen 2014b
2 (1)
Williams et al. 2004
4 (16)
Campbell and Lee 1953
2 (13)
Landgrebe et al. 2007c
2 (4)
a Rolling Plains ecoregion
b South Texas Plains ecoregion
c Trans Pecos ecoregion

What methods are used to count quail?

There are 2 general categories of methods for estimating quail abundance– indices and estimators, which provide measures of relative and absolute abundance, respectively. Relative abundance depicts general trends, whereas absolute abundance provides more finite populations estimates (birds / acre). Indices are most common among land owners and are counts that are assumed to be proportional to population size. Four indices used to monitor bobwhite populations include spring cock call counts, fall covey call counts, roadside surveys, and helicopter surveys. These indices are often used to set expectations for subsequent hunting seasons. It is important to note, however, that the relationship between some indices are more reliable at predicting abundance during hunting season than others. Abundance estimators are rarely used by land owners and require calculation of detection probabilities to estimate abundance.
Q: Which index is the most reliable for predicting hunting season abundance?
A: The most reliable indices for predicting hunting season abundance for bobwhite in the Rolling Plains are roadside surveys conducted during September and helicopter surveys conducted during November. In areas where these methods are not practical, spring and fall call counts may be used as crude predictors of abundance.
Q: How do I conduct a spring whistle count (aka spring cock call count)?
Q: How do I conduct a fall covey count? What am I listening for?
Q: How do I conduct a roadside survey?
Q: How are helicopter surveys conducted and how do I interpret the information?
Q: How much does a helicopter survey cost?
A: Most helicopter pilots flying wildlife surveys charge around $600 per hour. When transects are placed at 200 meter intervals (standard for bobwhite surveys), a pilot can traverse about 1,300 acres per hour.
Q: Are spring cock call counts reliable predictors of hunting populations (in Texas)?
A: Spring cock call counts in Texas can be paralleled to a “long-range” weather forecast. They are crude predictors of abundance at a large scale, well in advance of hunting season. Spring cock call counts likely provide reliable indices of breeding capital, or carry-over, but a poor nesting season (e.g., low survival, nest initiation rate, nest success, etc.) between the time of the counts and hunting season can turn the index “upside down.” For example, in 2016 the RPQRR documented and average of 7.47 cocks per stop and 7.49 cocks per stop in 2017. Hunting season abundance, however, was 2 times greater in 2016 than in 2017. This was likely due to good carry over, but poor nesting season demographics during 2017.
Overall, spring cock counts are most appropriate as predictors of above- and below-average years in Texas (Figure 1). An average of 5 cocks heard per stop during a 5-minute interval may be considered a good threshold for predicting above- or below-average years in the Rolling Plains. The virtues of call counts to predict hunting season abundance may be more realized in stable environments less prone to largely dynamic weather patterns and population cycles (e.g., Red Hills of FL, GA).
Q: What about fall “covey-call” counts?
A: Fall covey call counts can be paralleled to a “short-range” weather forecast. Just as the 3-day weather forecast is better than the “10-day forecast” (spring cock call counts), there is still much uncertainty in the predictions. Like spring cock call counts, fall covey counts provide a general idea of abundance when averaged across a large scale and these indices may be most appropriate to predict above- or below- average years. An average of 6 coveys heard per stop may be a good threshold of predicting above- or below-average years in the Rolling Plains (Figure 2).
Q: Are call counts a good guide of where to hunt on a property?
A: Call counts (both spring and fall as conducted conventionally) tend to perform poorly at small scales in the Rolling Plains. An analysis of counts for spring and fall covey counts were compared to density estimates at the RPQRR during 2016–2018. January densities surrounding listening stations (600-meter radius) were poorly correlated with counts from spring or fall covey counts (Figure 1c, 2c). This is likely because the counts are conducted months before hunting season, and densities may shift on the landscape. If fall covey counts are conducted the morning of a hunt, they may perform as better predictors of density across a landscape. However, an observer can only survey 1 point per morning due to the brief calling period. Additionally, calling rates and detectability vary by observer, environmental conditions, and density. So, unless these factors (and others!) are considered, fall covey counts still only provide general ideas of abundance.
Other information and notes:
General Techniques for Counting Quail
General Guide for Quail Counts and Interpretation of Results: https://wildlife.tamu.edu/files/2012/05/CountingQuail.pdf

What are cecal worms?

“Cecal worm” (aka ‘caecal worm’- British spelling) is the colloquial term for nematodes, or roundworms, found in the ceca of quail. The ceca are a pair of blind, intestinal appendages found at the juncture of the small and large intestines. There are a variety of different species of nematodes that are known to infect quail. Most literature on cecal worms parasitizing quails is limited to bobwhite and scaled quail.
Q: What species of nematodes infect bobwhite?
A: Cecal nematodes known to infect bobwhite in Texas include (but are not limited to):
Q: Are cecal worm infections common?
A: Yes. Surveys report that approximately 80–90% of bobwhite in the Rolling Plains and South Texas harbor cecal worms. Average prevalence and intensity of infection depend on species of worm and year.
Q: Is it safe to consume quail that are infected with cecal worms?
A: Yes. The meat from quail infected with any of the above mentioned cecal worms are safe to eat.
Q: Do cecal worms harm quail?
A: None of the cecal nematodes noted above have been empirically documented to regulate wild quail populations or cause direct mortality to individuals. However, ongoing research is attempting to address these questions due to the lack of prior documentation in the scientific literature.
The most common cecal nematode, Aulonocephalus pennula, is an imbibing (free-floating) nematode and has not been documented to cause necrosis, inflammation, or direct immune response in bobwhite (Dunham et al. 2017). The effect of A. pennula on population regulation of bobwhite is an intriguing current research topic, but empirical analyses linking A. pennula to any demographic parameter(s) is lacking. Current speculation suggests high-intensity infections of A. pennula may interact with nutritional demands of bobwhite by interfering with cellulose digestion. Whether this occurs, and at what levels of infection it manifests, is not known. Average prevalence in the Rolling Plains and south Texas is about 79%. Of infected individuals, average intensity is 117 and 82 worms per bird for Rolling Plains and South Texas bobwhites, respectively (Bruno et al. 2018, Olsen 2014). A survey conducted during 2012–2015 suggested 97% of scaled quail from west Texas were infected with A. pennula with an average of 68 worms per infected individual (Bedford 2015). A. pennula is most common on western (semi-arid) ranges and has an indirect life cycle.
Subulura brumpti is most commonly reported from quail in the Rolling Plains and has not been linked to any disease outbreaks. Interestingly, S. brumpti seemed to be the most common cecal worm reported from bobwhite during the 1960s–1970s in the Rolling Plains (Jackson and Greene 1965, Rollins 1980). More recent surveys (e.g., Bruno et al. 2018), however, rarely find S. brumpti at levels reported from historical records, and A. pennula now dominates cecal nematode communities in Texas quails. It is possible A. pennula has been misidentified as S. brumpti in the past, but it cannot be safely assumed this is the case because helminth communities within bobwhites have been documented to change over time (Moore et al. 1986).
Trichostrongylus tenuis is responsible for high rates of morbidity and mortality in red grouse in England and Scotland, but interestingly are not considered pathogenic to North American game birds. Freehling and Moore (1993) attempted to inoculate 6 bobwhite with T. tenuis from red grouse, but bobwhite failed to become infected. When bobwhite were inoculated with T. tenuis from North American origin, the birds became infected but did not show signs of disease. Upon further examination, it was later found that Trichostrongylus spp. worms had been misidentified in early bobwhite studies (Durette-Desset et al. 1993). The species occurring in bobwhite has since been described as T. cramae. T. cramae is most common on eastern ranges and has a direct life cycle. Ninety-five percent of bobwhite in Florida were documented to host T. tenuis (=cramae) during 1971–1984 with an average of 69 worms per infected individual (Davidson et al 1991). Prevalence of T. cramae in bobwhite from Colorado County, Texas was 97% during 1993, with an average of 27 worms per infected individual. In Refugio County, TX, prevalence of T. tenuis (=cramae) was 26% during 1983 with an average of 19 worms per infected individual (Demarais et al. 1987). It is likely that the lower prevalence in Refugio County is due to a drier climate and low tenacity of T. cramae.
Hetarakis gallinarum is a less common nematode of wild bobwhite in Texas, and by itself, is not considered pathogenic to bobwhite. H. gallinarum, however, is known for its ability to transmit the protozoan Histomonas meleagridis which causes blackhead disease in domestic poultry. Hetarakis is a direct life-cycle nematode and is most common on eastern ranges. Prevalence of H. gallinarum in east central Texas has been reported to range from 5–77%.
Strongyloides avium is not as common in bobwhite as other worms mentioned above. S avium has been documented by Jackson (1969) in the Rolling Plains and Purvis et al. (1998) in Colorado County. S. avium is not considered to be pathogenic by most authorities.
Literature Cited
Bedford, K. 2015. Parasitological survey of scaled quail from west Texas. Thesis. Texas A&M Kingsville, TX, USA.
Bruno, A., A.M. Fedynich, D. Rollins, and D.B. Wester. 2018. Helminth community and host dynamics in northern bobwhites from the Rolling Plains Ecoregion, U.S.A. Journal of Helminthology 1-6.
Davidson, W. R., F. E. Kellogg, G. L. Doster, C. T. Moore. 1991. Ecology of helminth parasitism in bobwhites from northern Florida. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 27:185–205.
Demarais, S. D. D. Everett, and M. L. Pons. 1987. Seasonal comparison of endoparasites of northern bobwhite from two types of habitat in southern Texas. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 23:256–260.
Dunham, N. R., Henry, C., Brym, M., Rollins, D., Helman, R. G., & Kendall, R. J. 2017. Caecal worm, Aulonocephalus pennula, infection in the northern bobwhite quail, Colinus virginianus. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, 6:35–38.
Freehling, M., and Moore, J. 1993. Host specificity of Trichostrongylus tenuis from red grouse and northern bobwhites in experimental infections of northern bobwhites. The Journal of parasitology 79:538–541.
Jackson, A. S. 1969. Quail management handbook for west Texas Rolling Plains. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Bulletin No. 48, Austin, USA.
Jackson, A.S., and H. Green. 1965. Dynamics of bobwhite quail in the west Texas Rolling Plains: parasitism in bobwhite quail. Federal Aid Project No. W-88-R-3. Austin, Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Moore, J., M. Freehling, and D. Simberloff. 1986. Gastrointestinal helminths of the northern bobwhite in Florida: 1968 and 1983. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 22:497–501.
Olsen, A. C. 2014. Survey of Quail Parasites in South Texas. Thesis. Texas A&M Kingsville, Kingsville, TX, USA.
Purvis, J. R., Peterson, M. J., Dronen, N. O., Lichtenfels, J. R., and Silvy, N. J. 1998. Northern bobwhites as disease indicators for the endangered Attwater’s prairie chicken. Journal of wildlife diseases, 34: 348–354.
Rollins, D. 1980. Comparative Ecology of Bobwhite and Scaled Quail in Mesquite Grassland Habitats. Thesis. Southwester Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK, USA.

What is brush sculpting?

Brush sculpting is a phrase coined in 1997 by Dale Rollins to describe the concept of planned, selective control of brush to enhance wildlife habitat. The term is all-inclusive, considering not only managing for configuration and extent of brush on the landscape, but also selective control to enhance brush diversity.

For an overview of brush sculpting for various plant communities and species of game animals, see the 1997 symposia proceedings Brush Sculptors: Innovations for Tailoring Brushy Rangelands to Enhance Wildlife Habitat and Recreational Value available: https://texnat.tamu.edu/library/symposia/brush-sculptors-innovations-for-tailoring-brushy-rangelands-to-enhance-wildlife-habitat-and-recreational-value/ .

Videos on brush sculpting and quail:
Brush sculpting to improve quail habitat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzdsJMwLff0
Quail Posts – South Texas Brush Sculpting 1 – Texas Wildlife Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75xZU0EHcFw
Quail Posts – South Texas Brush Sculpting 2 – Texas Wildlife Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhzgSz3d9VI
Quail Posts – South Texas Quail Habitat Rating-Brush – Texas Wildlife Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI1yUr-epl0
Rolling Plains Brush Sculpting Study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RibijhpuUuo
Q: How much brush do bobwhite need?
A: There is likely a range of brush cover and configurations that all lead to “usable space” for bobwhite. This concept is known as “slack,” and was coined by Fred Guthery. In semi-arid ecoregions, this range might vary from 5–40% canopy cover. In wet years, when herbaceous cover is bountiful, the virtues of brush may be less realized. That is, tall and-or thick herbaceous vegetation may serve as an appropriate alternative for thermal, screening, and escape cover. During dry years when herbaceous cover is lacking, the virtues of brush become better realized (Figure 1). A manager’s best option for brush sculpting for bobwhite is to manage for variation in brush cover (size and extent) and species diversity on a landscape.

Do sculpting patterns matter?
A: Since the advent of brush sculpting, managers have spent countless dollars sculpting intricate patterns of brush on the landscape. Figure 2 provides an example of 4 brush configurations that all lead to 20% canopy cover. Though Figures 2a-c are the most aesthetic, Figure 2d may be the most appropriate configuration of brush for bobwhite while maintaining huntability. In drought years, birds may only occupy areas with access to larger, clumpier woody patches. On the other hand, during wetter years, birds might occupy areas with less brush cover and more herbaceous cover. Figure 2d offers a brush configuration that is conducive to both wet and dry years.
Q: What methods are used for sculpting brush?
A: Methods used to sculpt brush might include the use of roller chopping, root plowing, chaining, herbicide, excavating (aka grubbing), prescribed fire, shredding, dozing, disking, or aerating. The specific method chosen should be specific to the goals and situation (see videos).
Herbicides.— The use of appropriate herbicides is very effective for brush sculpting, but can have collateral damage on non-target brush species. Newer herbicides (e.g., Sendero) are more selective than older ones. Herbicides are often used to control prickly pear but care should be taken not to kill desirable woody species like hackberry. Herbicides can be applied aerially from small airplanes or helicopters, or at small scales with backpack-type sprayers. Either situation grants flexibility for brush sculpting by being able to target specific areas or plants. When used in conjunction with fire, individual plant treatment (IPT) with sprayers mounted to ATVs may be attractive to those wishing to control re-sprouters. For more information for using herbicides for wildlife management, see: http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDAS/dh_099b/0901b8038099b9f6.pdf?filepath=range/pdfs/noreg/010-58605.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc
Mechanical Methods.— Mechanical methods of brush sculpting include dozing, grubbing, root-plowing, shredding, chaining, roller chopping, aerating, and disking. Root plowing is effective at controlling brush, but decreases brush diversity. Thus, root plowing may be most appropriate for large, single-species stands of brush, and should be avoided where brush is thick, yet diverse. Selective methods such as dozing may be more appealing in situations where brush cover is thick, and diversity is still good. Grubbing is another mechanical method that allows great flexibility for selectivity of plant removal. Because grubbing is most useful at lower brush densities, IPT (see herbicides) is often an alternative. Top removal mechanical methods include roller chopping, aerating, and chaining. All of these methods also offer a mechanism of soil disturbance. Top removal methods, however, will only slow brush encroachment rather than kill the brush species.
Prescribed fire.— The use of prescribed fire is not often used to effectively kill brush but typically used to slow the rate of brush encroachment. For example, species such as mesquite and redberry juniper are root-sprouters, i.e., will re-sprout after treatment. An effective kill of root-sprouting species via the use of fire is sometimes possible when plants are young (mesquites less than 2 years old, redberry juniper less than about 5 years old). On the other hand, large plants that do not root-sprout such as Ashe Juniper or Eastern Red Cedar can be root-killed using fire. Prescribed burning is often used as a maintenance procedure used to increase the useful life of more expensive treatments. Because fire is indiscriminate, mechanical methods may be more appealing to those wishing to be more selective when brush sculpting. Fire can also be used in conjunction with herbicides (see herbicides).

What books can you recommend for further study?

Bobwhites are one of the most studied game bird in the world, and many books have been written about their biology, management, hunting culture and strategies. The following are brief synopses of books recommended for further study. Prices are based on those set by the publisher.

Name: Beef, Brush, and Bobwhites: Quail Management in Cattle Country

Authors: Fidel Hernández and Fred S. Guthery

Publisher: Texas A&M Press

Year: 2012

Price: $25

Beef, Brush, and Bobwhites is a prime, goto general ecology and management reference for bobwhite enthusiasts in semi-arid rangelands of Texas, namely South Texas and the Rolling Plains. Easy to read and equally apt for the coffee table or as a field reference, pp. 244.

Name: Texas Bobwhites: A Guide to Their Foods and Habitat Management

Authors: Jon A. Larson, Timothy E. Fulbright, Leonard A. Brennan, Fidel Hernández, and Fred C. Bryant

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Year: 2010

Price: $25

Texas Bobwhites primarily highlights food items and provides high-quality images of plants and seeds found in the diet of bobwhitein Texas. The latter part of the book focuses on general ecology and habitat management, pp. 280.

Name: On Bobwhites

Authors: Fred S. Guthery

Publisher: Texas A&M Press

Year: 2000

Price: $23

On Bobwhites is an all-around reference for bobwhite ecology and general management. Though the author uses many Texas references, the book is fairly well-rounded and may be an appropriate reference for other parts of the bobwhite range, as well, pp. 213.

Name: Texas Quails: Ecology and Management, First Edition  

Editor: Leonard A. Brennan

Publisher: Texas A&M Press

Year: 2007

Price: $40

Texas Quails is a textbook-style compendium of research and management information for all 4 native quail species in Texas. The book is outlined in 3 section:species ecology, populations and management by ecoregion, and culture/heritage of Texas quail hunting. Written by multiple quail authorities and edited by Leonard Brennan, Texas Quails offers one of the most diverse, yet concise references available for both the technical and popular community. The first edition (pp.491) was released in 2007 and a second edition has been slated for release within the next few years (ca. 2021).

Name: Tall Timbers’ Bobwhite Quail Management Handbook

Editors: William E. Palmer and Clay Sisson

Publisher: Tall Timbers Press

Year: 2017

Price: $30

The Tall Timbers’ Bobwhite Quail Management Handbook is a reference for those interested in or managing bobwhite populations in the Southeastern US (forested ecosystems). The Tall Timbers’ Bobwhite Quail Management Handbook may be paralleled to Beef, Brush, and Bobwhites, for forested habitats. For those managing bobwhite in East Texas, this book may be the only reference that comprehensively, yet concisely addresses management in your area, pp. 160.

Name: Range Plants of North Central Texas: A Land Users Guide to Their Identification, Value, and Management

Author: Ricky J. Linex

Publisher: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Year: 2014

Price: $25

Range Plants of North Central Texasis a book written with quail in mind and published by funds made available almost exclusively by quail fanatics (including RPQRF). Range Plants of North Central Texas covers 324 plants (160 forbs, 59 grasses, and 105 woodies), most of which can be found in many areas of the state, not just North Texas. The reference offers nearly 1,500 highquality photos of plants and seeds to help in identification and discusses management and wildlife values for each plant, pp. 345.

Name: Technology of Bobwhite Management: The Theory Behind the Practice

Author: Fred. S. Guthery

Publisher: Wiley- Blackwell

Year: 2002

Price: $175 (rare, out of print)

Technology of Bobwhite Management is a technical reference which is essentially a concise compendium of peer-reviewed research, primarily from Fred S. Guthery’s career. The resource is not a management guide, but may be more appealing to those in academia. The book is now out of print, and difficult to acquire. If available for purchase, a copy under $100 would be a steal.

These classic texts of bobwhite ecology and management set the foundation for modern bobwhite management and research. All of these references are out of print but are still widely available online. Though somewhat antiquated (> 35 years), much of the information within these resources remains relevant to modern day management and are widely cited.
Originally published in 1931, The Bobwhite Quail: Its Habits, Preservation, and Increase (pp. 559) by Herbert L. Stoddard is the first book written to comprehensively describe bobwhite life history. According to Google Scholar, this book is the most cited reference in bobwhite literature, being cited nearly 1,000 times. Accordingly, the text has been colloquially deemed“The Bible of Bobwhite Management,” and its author, the “Father of Bobwhite Management.” An original copy of this book can run for hundreds, even thousands of dollars with reprints (into the 1970s) on the lower end of this continuum. Stoddard conducted his research in the Red Hills of Florida and Georgia, and was one of the first to formalize and document the importance of fire for bobwhite in pine ecosystems. In his autobiography, “Memoirs of a Naturalist,” Stoddard goes more into depth on his journey throughout life.
Dan Lay’s quail management handbook (pp. 46) published by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was first released for East Texas in 1954. The small, pamphlet style publication serves as a management reference for landowners in East Texas and still contains much relevant information. Following Lay’s publication in the 1950s, the Texas Parks and Wildlife released a similar pamphlet (pp. 75) written by A. S. Jackson in 1969, for the West Texas Rolling Plains. Though not extremely comprehensive, these texts are iconic classic bobwhite literature and are still widely cited.

A digital copy for Quail Management Handbook for West Texas Rolling Plains: Download Here.

In 1969, Walter Rosene published his classic text, The Bobwhite Quail: Its Life and Management(pp. 418). Rosene’s style parallels Stoddard’s, but provides are slightly larger geographic extent (to include Alabama and more central ranges) and expands upon Stoddard’s original work, which Rosene makes frequent reference.
 The year 1984 brought about 2 seminal bobwhite texts: “Population Ecology of the Bobwhite” (pp. 304) by John Roseberry and Willard Klimstra and “Bobwhites in the Rio Grande Plain of Texas” (pp. 371) by Val Lehmann. Roseberry and Klimstra’s work was based in Illinois and is a comprehensive text on research conducted in the area during the 1950s through 1970s. Bobwhites in the Rio Grande Plain of Texas was the first resource to extensively document bobwhite life history in the semi-arid ecoregion of South Texas. Lehmann makes reference to work in the blackland prairies and gulf coast regions, as well. Data collected for this text were collected from the 1940s to 1970s.
In 1985, the International Quail Foundation released “Bobwhite Thesaurus,” (pp. 306) by Thomas G. Scott. This book is strictly a book of reference- quite literally. Scott developed a bibliography of literature to index all publications prior to 1983. Given the vast amount of literature, this publication’s intent was to index citations to make them more accessible. The book is simply an extensive index of approximately 2,800 citations from 1822–1982, organized by their respective subject-categories. An index of the sort from 1983–present is not available.

What about Harvest Regulations?

Q: Are hunting season lengths and bag limits too generous?

A: The hunting season for quails in Texas is currently open from the last Saturday in October to the last Sunday in February. With a daily bag limit of 15 birds and a 4 month season, a hunter could potentially harvest 1,830 quail. On the surface, these numbers are alarming.  However, few hunters hunt very many days nor bag their limits on a daily basis.  The TPWD sets a generous season length and bag limit so as not to hinder hunter opportunity (thus sales of hunting licenses). The “average” quail hunter in Texas hunts less than 10 days per season and bags less than 3 birds/day.

Q:  Who determines harvest regulations for quails in Texas?

A:  Hunting regulations are established by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.  The Commission receives input from TPWD biologists periodically according to how quail populations are faring.  Biologists conduct annual roadside counts in august over most ecoregions of Texas to monitor quail abundance.  See TPWD’s annual quail hunting forecast (https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/) for an example of these counts.

Q: Should I be concerned with overharvesting?

A: One should consider two factors when contemplating this issue: scale and time. In general, due to the nature of quail and quail hunting, overharvest is not a management concern, at least not at the state-wide level. At larger scales, quail hunting tends to be “self-regulating”, i.e, during “boom” years hunting efforts are increased and in “bust” years hunting efforts are decreased because of low success.  This self-regulating nature may not be applicable to smaller scales, e.g., a quail lease or an individual ranch.  When quail abundance is low, e.g., during a drought, any hunting would tend to be more additive, and thus harvest should be monitored more closely.

Q:  I’ve heard words like “additive” vs. “compensatory” in discussions regarding harvest management.  What do these mean and why are they important?

A:  Compensatory loss is that which occurs or would have occurred naturally, e.g., via predators. Additive loss is that loss which would not have occurred naturally, i.e., the mortality is adds to the overall mortality of the population. The time of year in which individual birds are harvested determines how compensatory or additive the loss is to the population. Most quail biologists support the notion that harvest ascribes to an additive-mortality theory. This theory states that harvest is neither 100% compensatory nor 100% additive, but a combination of the two. However, as the season progresses, the percentage of additive loss increases. This is due to the fact that individuals alive in February have a much higher probability of entering breeding season than individuals in November

Q: How can I avoid overharvesting?

A:  To avoid overharvesting, landowners and ranch managers should come up with responsible harvest quotas. Conducting annual surveys like roadside counts in September is a cost-effective way to monitor quail abundance in the Rolling Plains (see “Counting Quail”).  During poor years, hunters on a lease should consider abstaining from late season hunts and voluntarily decreasing daily bag limits to fewer than 6 birds/day.

Where can I find technical assistance?

For those seeking further information on quail habitat management or in developing a quail management plan, several resources exist.
The non-profit organization Quail Forever provides quail management information on their website. They have also recently hired two new Coordinating Wildlife Biologists for the state of Texas “to assist landowners in implementing early successional habitat projects for the benefit of quail and other wildlife.”
Other online resources include the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, the Texas Parks and Wildlife “Quail in Texas” page, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s “Quail Management” page.
You can also contact your local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), your local county Texas Parks and Wildlife Service biologist, or your local county office of AgriLife Extension Service.

If you are willing to do a bit of reading, Beef, Brush, and Bobwhites: Quail Management in Cattle Country by F. Hernandez and F. Guthery, is a great resource for quail managers. Another good book is Texas Quails: Ecology and Management edited by L. A. Brennan and published by the Texas A&M University Press.

Finally, you can contact the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch at (325)-776-2615.

Podcasts: Dr. Dale on Quail

Hosted by Dr. Dale Rollins and Gary Joiner of Texas Farm Bureau & Sponsored by Gordy and Sons Outfitters.

Episode 60 – Quail Management in the “Oil Patch”

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail We often speak of “Leopold’s toolbox” and speak often of “axe, plow, cow, and fire,” and how these tools are the basis of our…

Episode 59 – Is All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guests are brothers Ty and Marc Bartoskewitz. Both are well-grounded in quail management in TX and currently manage ranches in Stephens and…

Episode 58 – Sustained Yield in Quail Hunting

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Dr. Abe Woodard with the East Foundation. Our topic is a “Quail 303” discussion of “sustained yield” of bobwhites in…

Episode 57 – Death from Above

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Tyler Sladen of Albuquerque, NM. Tyler is a serious falconer who specializes in hunting quail with his Tiercel goshawk “Jimmy…

Episode 56 – Ranchers with Bird Dogs

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail One of the patterns I’ve noticed over the years is that ranchers with bird dogs are more often astute quail managers. No secret really,…

Episode 55 – Graziers Down Below: Desert Termites

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Perhaps you’ve never noticed a key herbivore that may be impacting your quail habitat. They’re desert termites, and odds are, there are millions beneath…

Episode 54 – Dr. Dale on Quail Podcast features “Barefoot Bob”

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail I've met some interesting characters as I’ve traveled over west Texas for the past 40 years, but none more interesting than this month’s guest:…

Episode 53 – Predation Management: Beyond Habitat

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Predator control is always a contentious topic. Dr. Dale’s guest this month is Mr. John Palarski with Tall Timbers Research Station. Join us as…

Episode 52 – O’Shaughnessy Takes Reins at RPQRF

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail There’s a new sheriff in town! Join Dr. Dale this month with his guest Dr. Ryan O’Shaughnessy. Ryan took over as Executive Director this…

Episode 51 – Horace Gore: The Quintessential Quail Hunter

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Join Dr. Dale this month with his guest Horace Gore. Gore is a familiar name in Texas wildlife management circles. While many folks know…

Episode 50 – Reseeding Native Grasses

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Join Dr. Dale and his guest Brian Hays as they discuss the why’s and wherefore’s of establishing Native Warm Season Grasses. These grasses can…

Episode 49 – Game Warden Tales

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Join us as we visit with retired Texas Parks & Wildlife State Game Wardens Jack Burrus and Gary Self. Both were stationed at Childress,…

Episode 48 – Appreciating Raptors

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Say what? Yep, appreciate as in “to judge with heightened awareness” or “be cautiously or sensitively aware of.” My guest this month is Dr.…

Episode 47 – Dana Wright on quail happenings in the Rolling Plains

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Dana Wright is the newest member of our team here at RPQRF. She just retired from a stellar 30-year career with TPWD stationed in…

Episode 46 – Joe Don Brooks reflects on 80 years of quail hunting

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” – African proverb Take a trip back through time this month as Dr.…

Episode 45 – Gene Miller on Shelterbelts for Quail

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Gene T. Miller of Amarillo. Gene’s career was largely with TPWD as a Technical Guidance Biologist. We’ll discuss the “form…

Episode 44 – Roy Wilson: 40 Years of Outfitting Quail Hunts in West Texas

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Roy Wilson has lived his entire life in the Rolling Plains of Texas, and operated various hunting outfitter businesses during that time. His specialty for…

Episode 43 – Talking Quail with TPW’s Carter Smith

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Carter Smith has served as Executive Director for TPWD for the past 15 years and retires at the end of this year. He is…

Episode 42 – Quail & Rural Real Estate in Texas

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail How do quail and quail management affect rural land values? Is the “bird dog’s tail” wagging the “livestock dog” relative to land prices? These…

Episode 41 – Gun Dog Supply’s Steve Snell

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Odds are if you have a hunting dog (defined broadly), you’ve done business with Gun Dog Supply’s Steve Snell. I first met Snell in…

Episode 40 – Chris Dorsey: a Great Spokesperson for Hunting

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Last February outdoor TV mogul Chris Dorsey visited the RPQRR. I’d heard Dorsey’s name but hadn’t kept up with his accomplishments—this dog will hunt!…

Episode 39 – New Directions for RPQRF

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail In June 2021, Dr. Brad Kubecka succeeded Dr. Rollins as Executive Director. Join us this month as Drs. Rollins and Kubecka elaborate on new…

Episode 38 – Ronnie Smith on Bird Dog Training

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Training is usually a prerequisite for good bird dogs. This month’s special guest is Mr. Ronnie Smith, Jr. with Ronnie Smith Kennels in Pawhuska,…

Episode 37 – Quail Management On WMAs In Texas

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Most of the quail hunting opportunities in Texas are found on privately-owned lands. But several TPWD Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are popular destinations too.…

Episode 36 – Is “Deer Corn” a Quail Killer

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail My guest this month is Dr. Scott Henke with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Henke has been involved with…

Episode 35 – Shotguns as “Functional Art”

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s podcast features a “rags to riches” story about RPQRF Director Russell Gordy of Houston. Russell’s love of shotguns has transported him from…

Episode 34 – Lannom Ranch Buggies

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail The most “photographed photograph” at RPQRR is one of my four “Betters” sitting atop the high seat in a Lannom Ranch Buggy. This month’s…

Episode 33 – Pete Delkus – the Quail Hunting Weatherman

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Mark Twain reckoned that “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” As Students of Quail we all follow the…

Episode 32 – Clay Sisson: Quail Stalwart in the Southeast

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Mr. Clay Sisson from Albany, GA. Clay’s name is often quoted in quail management circles via his work with the…

Episode 31 – Hailey Ranch: A One-Man Show

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Mr. Rob Hailey from Abilene. The Hailey Ranch, located about 10 miles north of Abilene is a one-man show, and…

Episode 30 – Snipes Ranch: The Augusta National of Quail Ranches

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail If you're a golfer, a reference to the Augusta National means it just can't get much better. If you're a quail hunter, the same…

Episode 29 – Dr. Dwayne Elmore Discusses Quail Research

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Dr. Rollins' guest this month is his colleague Dr. Dwayne Elmore from Oklahoma State University. Join them as they discuss quail happenings north of…

Episode 28 – Ricky Linex: A Giant Among Men

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail “If I have seen further than others it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Sir Isaac Newton Some giants…

Episode 27 – Quail Management with an Accent

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s guest is Mr. Pen DeVries, a native of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). DeVries spent his formative years on a 30,000-acre game reserve in…

Episode 26 – Fire Ants and Quail

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail In the court of popular opinion red imported fire ants (RIFA) are a major player in the decline of quail across the southeastern half…

Episode 25 – Talking with TPWD on Quail in West Texas

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail My guest this month is John McLaughlin, TPWD’s Quail Program coordinator for west Texas. Join us as we discuss TPWD’s role and philosophy on…

Episode 24 – Food Plots For Wildlife

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail We're all farmers at heart and the phrase "food plot" is often in our lexicon about this time of year. Join Dr. Dale as…

Episode 23 – Politics of Prescribed Burning

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail My guest this month is Brian Treadwell with Conservation Fire Team of Christoval. Brian is a 5th generation Menard Co Rancher and has won…

Episode 22 – A Keen Eye for Quail

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail My guest this month is Paul Melton, a rancher from Roby. I’ve known Paul since 1995 and have come to regard him as the…

Episode 21 – New Frontiers in Quail Research

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Consult your crystal ball as we delve into some new directions in quail research. Join Dr. Dale as he interviews one of his former…

Episode 20 – The Value of Quail Hunting

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail What kind of value do you place on your trips afield with good friends and good dogs? Ever wondered how much you spend in…

Episode 19 – Translocation Of Wild Quail: A Reason To Give Thanks

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we are thankful for opportunities to help wild quail. We utilize every possible option to restore quails to…

Episode 18 – Rattlesnakes & Bird Dogs

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Nothing can ruin a quail hunt like a snakebit bird dog, and warm weather during early-season hunts increases the odds and risks of encountering…

Episode 17 – Our Quail Hunting Forecast

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail With dove season underway, quail hunters are looking ahead on the calendar and wondering: what kind of quail season can we look forward to…

Episode 16 – Lessons from Leopold, Part 3

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail Podcast concludes our exploration of Aldo Leopold’s classic treatise, “Game Management.” Join Dr. Dale and…

Episode 15 – Lessons from Leopold, Part 2

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail Podcast continues our exploration of Aldo Leopold’s classic treatise, “Game Management.” Join Dr. Dale and…

Episode 14 – Lessons from Leopold: Part 1

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail As we ease into summer, fingers crossed and prayers for rain and a great quail season, our next three podcast episodes will focus on…

Episode 13 – Quail Calls and Classic Rock: Music to our Ears!

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail If you’re out in quail country these days, you should be hearing the sweet sounds of bobwhites looking for love. Those calls are music…

Episode 12 – Health Concerns: Parasites & Quail

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail These days, we can’t help but think about our health and the dangers presented by the new coronavirus impacting folks in every corner of…

Episode 11: Always Looking Ahead

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail As we transition from winter to spring, quail hunters are reflecting on this past season and wondering what’s ahead. How loudly (and how often)…

Episode 10: The Bobwhite Brigade

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail It may still be winter, but summer will be here before we know it, so this month’s episode of our podcast is all about…

Episode 9: – “If We Make It Through December”

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail It’s felt more like winter than fall recently, so this month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast is an ode to the…

Episode 8: – Blue Quail in Texas

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast focuses on the second most abundant, yet equally loved, quail species in Texas: the…

Episode 7: 2019 – 2020 Quail Hunting Season: What’s Ahead?

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast covers our forecast for the 2019-20 quail hunting season. Get the latest scoop on…

Episode 6: Hawks and Roadrunners and Quail, Oh My!

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast covers the relationships between hawks and quail and roadrunners and quail. Learn which species pose…

Episode 5: Who are the major predators of quail?

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast addresses a hotly-debated topic among quail hunters: predator management. Join Dr. Dale and Gary Joiner…

Episode 4: When, Where, and Why Quail Build Nests

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast series covers all the details of nesting ecology of bobwhite and scaled quail in…

Episode 3: How Many Quail Are Out There?

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail Are you on the lookout for quail? If so, this month’s episode of our Dr. Dale on Quail podcast is for you. Join Dale…

Episode 2: Dr. Dale’s Quail Odyssey

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail This month’s episode in the Dr. Dale on Quail podcast series is all about Dr. Rollins’ lifetime love of quail and his journey from…

Episode 1: All About RPQRF

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Podcasts - Dr. Dale on Quail In the first episode, Dr. Rollins and Gary discuss the history of RPQRF, why it was founded, our mission, our research efforts to date,…

Webisode Library

How to Search for Eyeworms in Quail – Eyeworms (Oxyspirura petrowii) have been identified as possible culprits in the “quail decline” that is occurring in west Texas. Studies confirm they can result in scarring of the cornea and inflammation of the optic nerve, and likely result in decreased vision of quail. As of 2019, the maximum number of eyeworms removed from one bobwhite was 107, and infections of 20 or more eyeworms are common in the Rolling Plains. Eyeworms can be identified in the field with about 80% accuracy (presence/absence) using the Crafton or Newsome techniques (described herein), but accurate counts require dissection of the tissues surrounding the eyeballs. . Watch this video as research assistant Jennifer Newkirk demonstrates the method used to inspect quail for eyeworms.

How to Search for Eyeworms in Quail – Cecal worms (Aulonocephalus pennula) have been implicated as possible culprits in the “quail decline” that is occurring in west Texas. They are found in the lower gut of both  bobwhite and scaled quail. They are the most common nematode parasite in quail; we have found over 900 cecal worms in a single bobwhite, and average intensities are commonly over 200 worms/bird. Watch this video as research assistant Jennifer Newkirk demonstrates the method used to inspect quail for cecal worms.

Operation Idiopathic Decline – 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.

Plant succession – Plant succession is the “orderly, predictable process of change in plant communities over time.” A knowledge of plant5 succession is one of the most powerful tools in the managers tool-kit. In this video, Dr. Rollins explains how sucxcession works, and shows how relatively minor changes in the timing of soil disturbance (in this case disking on rangeland) can promote vastly different plant communities. Changes are discussed relative to plant and insect diversity and why this practice is important for quail management.

Sounds quail make – 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.

Ragweeds and Quail – Ambrosia is often used to describe the “food of the gods.” A fitting association for quail managers as the Latin name of ragweed is “Ambrosia.” Western ragweed is the plant that earned the dedication of quail hunters as it did the disdain of hay fever sufferers. In most winters it is an important (if not the most important) seed in the bobwhite’s crop. In this webisode, Dr. Rollins compares and contrasts three species of ragweed found on RPQRR.