Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Florida Bobwhite Quail

     For all this time I've been writing on Quail's Hollar Farm and I noticed I've completely forgot to do a post on the darn quail, well ok  themselves. So here it is, my post on my favorite Florida bird, sorry mocking bird....

                              The Famous Face of Our Farm, Bob

     Here in Florida there is only one local ground bird, that being of course the adorable yet imposing and obnoxious bobwhite quail. These tiny little birds are about the size of a hamster and are local to the Florida pinewoods and grasslands. They're not as common as the used to be, but thanks to ecological restoration projects, they're making a comeback, and a loud one. The reason why these birds are called bobwhite is because the males make a "bobwhite' noise, the call actually sounds as if the bird is calling for bobwhite. It's a pretty sound just loud. Word of advice for all of you urban farmers out there, DO NOT put them right outside your window, unless of course you like it when a rooster-like bird has an obsession with a white bob and just feels determined to voice his opinion. These wonderful little plump partridge family members are hunted during the fall, no not be me, but by others, I can't imagine who would want to hunt them though. Some people right? tsk tsk tsk...

Despite their common look they actually only thrive in a specific kind of habitat, because of their size, they're vulnerable to predation. That means they can't go too far into the grass lands as there's the chance a hawk will be watching them while they're looking for insects. Yet they can't venture too far into the woods either, because of, well a ton a animals are rather found of quails in a culinary sense. Really to be honest they're on the bottom of the food chain. In a nutshell, the only place they really thrive is on the edge of the forest, that way they can retreat to either side if there's a predator anywhere around. So this is a hint to all you land owners out there, don't bother cutting the grass around the edge of your tree lines for at least twenty feet, why? Well weren't you listening? For the bobwhites of course... It's crucial that we don't loose this little quail, because other more endangered animals are also dependant on them for food.

These Danny Devotes of the bird world are raised basically anywhere, in apartments, urban farms or even released back into the wild if you have the correct environment to offer. I've found that they do best in hutches or small aviaries. They seem to like to feel enclosed on three sides so make an effort to provide them with that type of setting. They're not sensitive to too many diseases but that doesn't mean you should keep them in terrible living conditions. Always make sure their quarters are clean. I feed my birds game bird crumble with some green foodstuffs from the vegetable garden, they seem to like roughage. I've only had a few birds at a time so I've noticed these birds do best in pairs, they're not french enough for 'menage a trios.' I used to have three, one male and two females. Then the one dominant female ended up almost scalping the other female so I had to sell the lesser dominant one. (I guess it's true, someone in those situations always get less attention) Keep them clean, in pairs and with a place to hide, they're not very vain. Here's a tip, never keep a male alone, they'll crow night and day twenty four -seven. Always have a female around, they do not do well solo, keep them in pairs.

The bobwhite quail is a wonderful little bird to have on the game farm, it's recommendable as a beginner bird or as another member of an aviary, they aren't aggressive and are seldom seen if they're given the room. Yet you can be treated to their presence at around dinner time where you can watch them all come out of the brush while they look for food (those of you with aviaries). That's why they're the face of our farm, they bring me a sense of home every time I see one. So why not bring a part of the Florida backwoods culture to your home? They're like the real deal minus the banjo and tobacco stains!

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