Assistant Resource Manager
As the summer begins to wind down, so do our efforts of raising and releasing northern bobwhite quail into our parks. Slate Run is in its 10th year of releasing quail and we successfully released two broods into the park this summer. These young birds will form coveys that will help them survive through the winter and hopefully allow them to breed next spring!
We have seen our released birds breed on their own in many of the past release years. Our efforts don’t stop at releasing birds. We are actively managing the park’s habitat to support their needs for shelter and food. And this work benefits a variety of other native species including yellow breasted chats, brown thrashers and many other animals that prefer mid-successional habitats.
Trees and shrubs have been planted and food plots are put in place to offer a variety of food sources and shelter. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is in its second year of quail releases. Day-old chicks are acquired from nurseries and placed in a brood box that will keep them fed, watered, warm and protected for about five weeks. The full grown birds are then released into the prepared habitats. Several birds, about five to 15, will band together to form a covey. This group of birds will hunt for food together (they eat seeds and insects), alert one another to predators, and huddle together for warmth when it gets cold.
In the spring and early summer months, Metro Parks will conduct breeding bird surveys in the areas of release and where good habitat exists to listen for the iconic quail call “bob-WHITE!” This helps us confirm that birds have survived the winter.
Every summer we strive to release two or three broods of 100 birds at both Slate Run and Battelle Darby Creek. As the program moves forward, we may look into additional parks that provide the right habitat! The northern bobwhite has declined in numbers from much of its Ohio range as a result of lost habitat and a change in farming practices. Hopefully our efforts will allow our visitors to experience this well-loved species in our parks.
If you see or hear bobwhite while you are spending time in the parks, please let us know! We would love to hear from you.