Metro Parks answers the fading call of the bobwhite quail

Land Management Coordinator

Look for bobwhite quail along the forest edges and grasslands at Slate Run and Battelle Darby Creek. Photo Bryan Knowles

It has been almost a decade since Metro Parks began a program to reintroduce the northern bobwhite quail population in the parks and surrounding areas.

Bobwhite population levels have been on a long-term decline throughout their range, including Ohio. Habitat loss and intensification of agricultural practices have made recovery difficult.

The surrogator at Slate Run Metro Park functions as a “surrogate parent” by providing food, water warmth and protection for the first several weeks of the bird’s life. Photo Carrie Morrow

In spring of 2012, park staff and resource management staff initiated a quail started the reintroduction program. A surrogator or breeding box was purchased to raise day-old chicks to adulthood and then release them at the park. Habitat modifications were made to meet the needs of the released birds, such as edge feathering to provide woody cover from predators, food plots and planting of warm season grasses for nesting. These diverse habitats benefit a variety of other birds, mammals and insects. The program is still ongoing at Slate Run and in 2021 Battelle Darby Creek was added to the program.

Bobwhite quail are a popular upland game bird found throughout the south-eastern United States and a native component of woodland edges and early successional fields. They use flight primarily as an escape mechanism and spend most of their time walking on the ground eating seeds, insects and fruits. Successful nesting by released birds has been documented and visual sightings have been reported by staff and visitors every fall, winter and spring since the program began. Even some park neighbors have reported seeing quail at their feeders in winter. With increased habitat improvements, the goal of self-sustaining, wild populations at Metro Parks is becoming a reality. Be on the lookout and listen for the distinctive whistle of the bobwhite quail.

This is just one of the many habitat restoration and resource management strategies that Metro Parks conducts to successfully manage wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Be sure to look for these chunky round-shaped birds as you hike the trails at Slate Run and Battelle Darby Creek. Listen for males whistling “bob-WHITE” during the spring breeding season.

5 thoughts on “Metro Parks answers the fading call of the bobwhite quail

  1. Hi. Are there any other bobwhite quail projects in the other Metro Parks? I’d love to try this at Blendon Woods if there’s any interest.

    1. Hi, Marcia. Currently, we have programs at Battelle Darby Creek and Slate Run Metro parks. We will evaluate new parks in the future.

  2. Great project. It would be good if Division of Wildlife and/or NRCS would provide incentives with adjoining landowners to expand habitats in order to create a larger reservoir of birds. Hello Tony.

  3. Quail and Grouse are almost nonexistent in southern Ohio but ODNR still has a hunting season for them, why?

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