Order Native Shrubs for Covey Headquarter Plantings

Published on: Jan. 26, 2009

image of prairieShrubby cover is probably the greatest limiting factor for bobwhite quail in most parts of Missouri. The picture below is a great example of covey headquarters (shrub thickets) scattered across a Missouri prairie. Looks like pretty good quail habitat to me.

One way landowners can create better shrubby cover is by planting native shrub thickets known as covey headquarters. You can order native shrubs and trees from the Missouri Department of Conservation George White Tree Nursery.

My favorite native shrubs to plant for covey headquarters are wild plum, blackberry, roughleaf dogwood, gray dogwood, aromatic sumac and elderberry. Other good shrubs for covey headquarters include false indigo, smooth sumac, nannyberry and coralberry. The nursery has a good supply of shrubs this year, especially blackberry.

image of 5 year old plotThe picture below is a covey headquarter I planted to elderberry, roughleaf dogwood and wild plum five years ago. I planted the elderberry from seed, but that's another story for another day. The covey headquarter is already providing good protective cover for quail and rabbits. The reason it is doing so well is that I’ve taken care of the planting by spraying weeds around each shrub and applying a pre-emergent herbicide the first growing season. I'm rather impatient, so I usually add a few cedar trees to the covey headquarter to provide instant shrubby cover for bobwhites and rabbits.

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