Return of the Quail
One of the first site visits I made as a new Private Land Conservationist for the Department of Conservation in 2011 was to Ken and Cathy Buchmann‘s 86 acres in east-central Missouri. From that first day when they invited me into their home and told me how they wanted to bring quail back to their property, I knew it was going to be a pleasure to work with them. They have approximately 21 wooded acres and the rest is open land. At the time of our initial meeting, all of the open fields were in brome and were being cut for hay. They wanted to start with the three acres directly behind their house. This field was prepped and planted in the winter of 2011.
I was surprised to get a call from them in the summer of 2012 telling me they had found a quail nest. They heard a male calling earlier in the spring and later saw a bobwhite fly into the new planting. For the next several weeks, they kept their eye on the nest until the eggs hatched and the family moved on. They were thrilled.
This spring, they asked if I could help identify a new bird. They pointed out a Dickcissel which had been calling from a nearby shrub. In addition to the Dickcissel, we also spotted several field sparrows, American goldfinch, yellow-breasted chat, and common yellow-throat warbler. This fall, Ken sent me an email telling me he had flushed a covey of about 24 quail. While it would probably be optimistic to say these birds are already the result of the habitat work that has only recently been done, the knowledge of their presence has fueled the Buchmann‘s desire to create even more grassland bird habitat. Their original plan to convert 6½ acres has increased to 15 acres with plans to install covey headquarters. I am confident their passion for wildlife will inspire them to continue to do more when these projects are completed.