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      Nature Report: Bobwhite Quail Rebound

      The distinctive call of the bobwhite quail has become increasingly difficult to hear throughout its range over the past years. Statewide over the preceding three decades bobwhite quail numbers have fallen more than 75 percent, and while populations often vary greatly from year to year the decline has been steady. Quail population in all 35 states where the birds are native have experienced stunning declines with some numbers dropping as much as 90 percent. However, this summer South Texas bobwhite quail are showing signs of rebounding, and this hen has brought at least a dozen recently hatched babies out for a drink at a ranch country pond. Weather, particularly timely rains, and habitat are the driving forces regulating quail numbers.

      Studies are underway to determine if parasites and environmental contaminates are also contributing to the decline, but habitat loss is likely the most important factor. This spring and early summer rainfall has been sufficient on most South Texas wild lands to promote an increase in quail numbers. Quail are resilient and can reproduce rapidly when weather conditions are favorable, but when there is no ground moisture to trigger nesting many birds will not waste precious energy on attempt or raise young. These young quail are only a few days old and are sticking very close to their mother for protection.

      However, with so many there is just not enough room for them all to squirm beneath her plumage. And when mom decides it TMs time to leave the entire covey dutifully follows her back to the protective cover of the brush until it TMs time to come to water once again. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore