Quail Steal the Show

The University of Missouri Bradford Research Center, outside of Columbia, held a “Bobwhite Quail and Native Pollinator Field Day” on June 20th. One of the stations on the evening wagon tour was a stop to discuss habitat management techniques and a demonstration on how to conduct a fall bobwhite quail covey count. We had set up electronic game callers that played the quail covey call that landowners would hear in the autumn if they wanted to conduct covey counts on their properties.

When we set out the 3 callers in the afternoon before the tours started, we got a surprise. One real quail joined in singing the covey call right along with the machine game callers. We got a laugh in and went back to the main building to await the start of the wagon tours. By the time our first tour got out to the listening spot, the game callers had called in at least five real birds that were now singing their famous “Bob-WHITE!” The real male bobwhites were so drawn to the game callers, one male quail was even atop the game caller, singing away!

While I knew we had only set out three electronic callers that were sounding the covey call, the participants on the wagon tour thought the males calling were all a part of the tour stop. Participants were a bit surprised to learn that only the covey calls were from the machine game callers, and that we were surrounded by male Bobwhites singing their hearts out! The second tour wagon got to see a bobwhite fly by in the midst of all the singing and the last tour group got to hear the male’s breeding call and real birds joining in on the covey call as the sun fell lower on the horizon. While the wind was too strong to properly demonstrate how far a person can hear a covey calling on a calm morning, the chorus of bobwhites was quite a treat for everyone on the tour. In fact, tour participants were so caught up with the chorus of quail calls, I’m not sure they heard much of what we had to tell them!

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