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Thread: Tips on making bobwhites more wild?

  1. #1

    Default Tips on making bobwhites more wild?

    Wondering if anyone has any tips, tricks, strategies or insights into how I can make bobwhites I'm raising (chick to adult) for release more prepared for the wild? I have been working considerably for a while to improve the quail habitat on my land. However, my property is surrounded by other properties with poor quail habitat, thus the likelihood of wild quail ever ending up back on my land on their own is slim, especially in the near future. I am aware mortality rates are high and blah, blah, blah, I have no issue with doing supplementary releases every year. However, I want these birds to have the best shot possible at surviving and I have time to pay them a good amount of personal attention. So far I've considered:
    -Releasing the birds young; the strategy used by the Surrogator.
    -Allowing young chicks to roam fenced in open ground for a few hours a day (I'm raising them in Central Texas during summer so I don't think them getting too cold should be much of an issue)
    -Using a recall pen to release older birds during the day but putting them back into their barn at night.

    Any tips from extra nutrients, pen fixtures, pre release tactics etc. I'm all ears. Thanks you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    2,975

    Default pen raised quail

    go to the call back exclusively around 8 weeks. Feed native small seeds, millet etc. and most important meal worms early on to promote oil in the feathers to help will rain. Let them go 1/2 each day. In the spring most will not come back, might seem gone, sooner or later you will find some of them return....might even recall months later. Deer corn is fatal because it draws predators and is substandard quality toxins etc. As you seem to understand, limited ability to create a hunting scenario. Sure is night to hear them call and flush them now and then anyway! Good Luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    NE Oklahoma
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    Default

    I feel your pain in the lack of wild birds. Born and raised in Louisiana, listening to stories from a father that grew up in the 60s and 70s in Illinois farm country I've always been jealous of people that have a good population of birds. If Louisiana today has 100 solid coveys in it I would be surprised. So I have thought about doing what you are attempting for years. Even being in Oklahoma and relatively close to good bird populations, I still think about it.

    As far as behavior is concerned limiting human contact and early release (with Surrogator) seem to be keys in getting the best "wild" bird behavior from pen raised quail.

    However the sustainability issue is another story. Even wild quail have an extremely high mortality rate, with or without hunting pressure, and pen raised birds are even higher. I believe that I read one report that estimated the average life span of a wild quail to be around 11 months. I'm sure that is including chick mortality, regardless it is a very short time period for the average adult bird <2 years.

    I found this article from the Missouri Department of Conservation which gives a pretty good explanation and cites studies from different areas and habitats around the country to explain why the MDC no longer stocks quail.

    http://mdc.mo.gov/blogs/more-quail/w...nt-stock-quail

    TLDR: I feel your pain. Good luck on the short term stuff. Don't get your hopes up on a sustainable population.

  4. #4

    Default

    I appreciate y'all's input!

    @oldandnew I had considered buying some live mealworms to scatter around in their pens under the hay, definitely will incorporating that into my strategy now. Also, thanks for the advice on the recall pen.

    @OKRev I agree the quail decline is extremely frustrating; areas I hunted quail even as a kid (not too long ago), there are no longer quail. Believe it or not the high mortality among wild quail actually gives me some solace in releasing pen birds as an 80% mortality rate among wild birds isn't too far off from a 90-95% mortality rate among pen birds.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    NE Oklahoma
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    Default

    How big of an enclosure/yard area do you have? Have you considered a micro habitat in there? Like planting some millet, lespedeza, bluestem, ragweed, clover, or whatever the local food sources are so they can learn to forage? Or including some small brushpiles or thickets to encourage them to find cover?

  6. #6
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    The shorter and longer you make the pen and the more obstacles you place in there for them to hide in or under, you will make them run and elude much better. Which is what they do in the wild. Only fly when they have too. Also, quail are sensitive to red light. So when I put pen raised quail in the brooder at 2 weeks we use red lights for warming lights. Since the quail are sensitive to it, it will make them and little wilder. We find that the ones taht are exposed to the red light and taken right to the johhny houses fly much better than do the ones with normal white lights on them. Just a small trick that works. Ive seen them survive in the wild but I dont know that they will nest.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2009
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    Loveland, Colo
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    The least human interaction or exposure you can have with them. This can be accomplished by several different ways and some already expressed on here are good.

    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it" YOGI

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default wildness

    I think we all know that pheasants are far more wary than quail originally released, some sub species better than others! But I can assure you with a little work you can produce quail which are indistinguishable from wild, case in point have have merged coveys, I can tell them apart when they recall themselves when in the pen! not out in the field. I do not de-beak my birds and feed animal and plant matter generally available "out there". Pen raised birds are sufficiently calm in the johnny house, wild ones are visibly anxious. I have mixed red and normal bobwhites, the reds are definitely mine released, along with the Wisconsin jumbo's merged into outside coveys. The reds seem indigenously wilder, the jumbo's certainly acclimate but are 2 weeks slower growing and they need them time. I call these my "subsidy" quail! I am now trying huns.....they are wild right out of the block, fly a tremendous distance, recall eventually, not as a agreeable as quail, but my land doesn't suit them anyway.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    SD baby
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    Default

    When i used to raise bird for release i would take a pump up weed sprayer and mist the birds to help promote the oil in their feathers.

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