South Texas Wildlife Management

Upland Birds

Strutting Rio Grande TurkeyThe diversity of habitats and unique vegetation types in South Texas creates an environment that accommodates a variety of upland game bird species. The brush country is home to Bobwhite quail, scaled quail, Rio Grande turkeys, mourning doves, white-winged doves, and Chachalacas.

Some consider bobwhite quail as the crown jewel of south Texas upland game birds. Found throughout the region, these denizens of the brush have adapted well to a harsh environment that is frequent with droughts, predators, and in some case less desirable habitat accommodations. Recently, bobwhite quail have been placed on a list of rare and declining birds species in Texas. Over 30 years of data from the Breeding Bird surveys in Texas validates this fact. Much of the decline for quail as well as other bird species can be attributed to habitat loss. South Texas feels less of this effect because of the vast amounts of undeveloped rangelands. However, poorly managed rangelands afford bobwhites little in the way of good habitat, making survival difficult and population increases almost impossible. Properties under a sound range and wildlife management program host decent quail populations.

Rio Grande Turkey populations are somewhat localized to areas with good roosting habitats and reliable water sources, which may be few and far between in some counties. Turkeys can typically be found along the major river courses of south Texas such as the Nueces or Frio River. The live oaks, hackberry, and cedar elms along the drainage provide good roosting site, making them attractive to turkeys. Through TPWD turkey restocking programs and good habitat management, turkeys are expanding their range into non-traditional habitats in the brush country.

The chachalaca, is also limited in distribution to distinct habitats in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. This tropical-forest bird is at home in the taller trees of the dense Tamaulipan Thornshrub vegetation limited to extreme southern Texas. Short of heading to Old Mexico, Texas is the only place in the U.S. where Chachalacas can be found. Chachalacas, secretive by nature, make for a challenging and unique hunting opportunity.

Whether land manager, bird enthusiast or bird hunter the brush country is a great place to enjoy a variety of upland game birds. Good range and wildlife management techniques will help conserve the habitats upon which these bird species depend. Management for a diversity of birds can yield economic benefits for landowners wishing to attract hunters, birdwatchers and other nature tourists. Click on the links below to find out more information about the biology, history, and management of these species.

Bobwhite Quail
Rio Grande Turkey
White-winged Dove