Bobwhite and Blues Boom in Texas
If you took a ride across the core quail hunting regions today, it would be hard to imagine the terrible conditions brought on by the extreme droughts of 2010 – 2013 that hit Texas, Mexico and the Southeastern U.S. so hard. Consecutive years of dry summer and winter conditions are especially problematic for short lived birds like quail because they rely on each year’s crop of young to replenish the population. By the same token, consecutive years of above average rainfall and lower than average summer temperatures can produce quail “boom” years. That’s exactly what has happened in the Rolling Plains, South Texas and Trans Pecos regions of Texas where both Bobwhite and Scaled quail (a.k.a. Blue quail) have made a remarkable comeback. That’s because there are millions of acres of rangelands in these regions where the most common land use (livestock production) is generally compatible with quail. Good land stewardship and proper grazing are important to the persistence of these highly prized game birds but even the best conservation efforts cannot overcome long-term exceptional drought. It’s important to recognize that bobwhite quail have all but disappeared from other regions of our state due to extensive changes in the quantity and quality of available habitat ("Can We Bring Quail Back?"). TPWD is diligently working with conservation partners and land stewards within key quail focus areas to demonstrate that bobwhites can make a comeback. If we provide the habitat needs at a large enough scale to support viable populations, restoration is possible.
From the Executive Director
My old friend was perfectly giddy with excitement. The spring and early summer rains had done him and his pastures well. He could hardly contain himself heralding his good fortune over the state of the Shackelford County range conditions, nesting cover, brood habitat and insect crop and the prospects for the upcoming hunting season.
But I knew he really meant business when he leaned in with a big grin and said, "You know I’m buying bird dogs again." And if that wasn’t enough to convince me that the tide had turned, he added for emphasis, “And so is my neighbor!"
The quail have bounced back in a good portion of the state, and bird hunters from the Trans-Pecos to the High, Rolling and Coastal Plains to the South Texas Brush Country are chomping at the bit for cooler weather and a chance to break out their dogs, young and old, in pursuit of what appears to be a bumper crop of bobs and blues across quail country.
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The structure of habitat needed to sustain quail is well documented. Although the types of plants used by quail change across the different regions of Texas, the structure of the habitat, which provides nesting, overhead screening, loafing, and roosting cover, remains the same.
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