Northern Bobwhite Quail Facts
The bobwhite quail is a relatively small bird that is about
10 inches long. It has a mixed plumage of brown, black,
white and buff making it almost invisible against the
vegetation of weedy fields and edges of the woodlands.
Bobwhite quail reside in pastures, abandoned
fields, crop fields, grasslands, brushy areas
along forest edges and shrubby meadows.
Bobwhite quail search for food in the early portion of
the morning and then again in the hours before
nightfall. Bobwhites feed on insects and weed seeds.
The juvenile quail’s menu is 85 percent bugs while
the adults’ diet is comprised of about 70 percent
seeds and 30 percent insects on a year-round basis.
Seeds of many plants such as ragweed and foxtail are
edible and the bobwhite is highly dependent on
these seeds during the fall and winter months.
During much of the year they travel in small groups known
as coveys, sleeping at night in a compact circle, tails to the
center. This roosting technique allows the covey to
conserve heat and be ready to fly in all directions if
approached by a predator. Hawks, skunks, foxes, raccoons,
owls, snakes, coyotes, bobcats, domestic dogs & cats, and
hunters are predators of quail.
In the spring, May through September, the male
selects a territory in which to nest and the female is
responsible for the nest building. The female will
build a nest on the ground in which she lays 6-18
eggs per clutch. Incubation lasts 23-24 days. The
chicks follow their parents upon hatching and fledge
in 6-7 days. They can fly short distances at 10 to 14
days. Chicks survival is low – probably no more than
30 percent survive their first year.
The major factors leading to the decreasing numbers of
1. habitat loss
2. intensive agricultural practices
3. harsh weather events