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Texas Quails

Ecology and Management

Edited by Leonard A. Brennan; Foreword by Katharine Armstrong

Publication Year: 2007

Nothing is more evocative of the Texas outdoors than the whistled call of the bobwhite. While the familiar two-note greeting is now just a memory for most of us who live in the state’s growing urban sprawl, this bird is an economic commodity on par with crops and livestock in some regions of Texas. Three other native species of quail also inhabit Texas. Like the northern bobwhite, the scaled quail is significant as a game bird. The other two species, Gambel’s quail and Montezuma quail, are found in limited areas of southwestern Texas and represent an important indicator of forest, rangeland, and habitat conditions. Texas Quails presents the first complete assessment of the four species of quail found in this vast state. Experts describe each of them and examine all geographic regions of the state for historical and current population trends, habitat status, and research needs. These experts also discuss management practices, hunting issues, economics, and diseases. With the recent creation of the Texas Quail Conservation Initiative, this volume provides a timely and comprehensive view of quail science and stewardship.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Perspectives on South Texas Series, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x

One of my earliest memories while growing up on the family ranch in South Texas is the cheerful whistle of the bobwhite. I still recall those special times when the calls of bobwhites at daybreak were so frequent and loud that they oft en drowned out the other songbirds in the brush. South Texas remains a stronghold for quails in the United States. Sadly...

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pp. xi-xii

The previous quotation is from Harry C. Oberholser’s monumental Bird Life of Texas. Assuming Oberholser’s scholarship is correct—and there is no reason to think otherwise—this means that quails are at the very heart of Texas ornithology. Quails also have a place in the hearts of many Texans. Hunting Texas...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Even if someone had a photographic capacity to capture the scientifi c literature on quails in Texas and the surrounding states, the Texas landscape is so vast—and diverse—that it would take a career lifetime to master the nuances of all factors that infl uence wild quail populations throughout the state. For this reason, I am indebted to the 24 people...

Section I: Ecology and Life History of Texas Quails

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-5

Wild quails, and the opportunities to hunt, photograph, or simply watch them, are among the most important wildlife resources in Texas. During the past 20– 30 years, as bobwhite populations have declined in East Texas and elsewhere throughout the coastal plain of the southeastern United States, quail hunters have gravitated toward South and...

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2. Gambel’s Quail Ecology and Life History

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pp. 6-22

The Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) is named aft er William Gambel, a naturalist employed by the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences who collected specimens along the Santa Fe Trail in 1841 (Brown 1989). Gambel’s quail are most common in the Sonoran Desert and associated semiarid ecosystems of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico (Brown et al...

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3. Montezuma Quail Ecology and Life History

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pp. 23-39

Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae), or Mearns’ quail, are unique birds found in the pine-oak woodlands of Mexico and the southwestern United States, with limited occurrence in Texas (figure 3.1). Their strange appearance and behavior have earned them numerous colloquial names, including harlequin quail...

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4. Northern Bobwhite Ecology and Life History

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pp. 40-64

Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) have captured the public’s interest for many years. Part of this interest can be attributed to the favorable impact that bobwhite hunting has on local economies. Landowners can supplement their income via fee-lease hunting, while local merchants benefi t from the increased business caused by the influx...

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5. Scaled Quail Ecology and Life History

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pp. 65-88

The scaled quail (Callipepla squamata), also known as blue quail or cotton tops, is the second most abundant quail found in Texas. Scaled quail provide hunters with a challenging and unique hunting experience because they prefer to run rather than fly. There are quail hunters who prefer pursuing scaled quail to the more popular northern bobwhite...

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6. Diseases and Parasites of Texas Quails

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pp. 89-114

The mammoth work The Grouse in Health and Disease (Committee of Inquiry on Grouse Disease 1911), among other things, argued that the cecal worm Trichostrongylus tenuis (T. pergracilis) was the primary cause of “the Grouse Disease” in red grouse...

Section II: Quail Populations in the Ecoregions of Texas: Management Opportunities and Research Challenges

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7. Quails on the Rolling Plains

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pp. 117-141

The Rolling Plains have historically provided some of the best opportunities to hunt northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations anywhere. Historically, scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) have been common to abundant over much of the Rolling Plains, but the populations decreased dramatically in the late 1980s and have been slow to...

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8. Bobwhites on the Cross Timbers and Prairies

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pp. 142-155

The Cross Timbers and Prairies (CTP) were named by early Texas settlers who found belts of oak forests crossing strips of prairie grassland (Bolen 1998). The vegetation of the CTP is similar to that of the Post Oak Savannah. The post oaks (Quercus stellata) and blackjack oaks...

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9. Bobwhites in the East Texas Piney Woods

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pp. 156-183

The Piney Woods ecological region is on the eastern edge of Texas (figure 9.1). It is part of the West Gulf Coastal Plain (Fenneman 1938; Walker and Collier 1969), which includes much of western Louisiana. Based on physiography, the West Gulf Coastal Plain is separated into the Upper Gulf Coastal Plain and the Lower Gulf...

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10. Bobwhites on the Blackland Prairies

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pp. 184-201

The Blackland Prairies physiographic region of Texas (figure 10.1) is not currently thought of as prime quail country, although northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) certainly occur there. Rich blackland soils, however, once supported substantial numbers of bobwhites (Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission [TGFOC] 1945:46– 60). In many...

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11. Quails on the Trans-Pecos

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pp. 202-216

The four quail species known to Texas can all be found in the Trans- Pecos, making it the most quail-diverse ecoregion in the state (figure 11.1). The western limit of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) is found along the eastern boundary of the ecoregion, where they are restricted to the Pecos River watershed and its tributaries. Scaled quail...

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12. Quails on the Edwards Plateau

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pp. 217-232

Three species of quails inhabit the Edwards Plateau ecological region of Texas. The northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), the best-known and most widely distributed species, occurs in virtually all counties east of the Pecos River. Two species—scaled quail...

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13. Quails on the High Plains

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pp. 233-247

Wild quails are one of the most popular objects of pursuit for birdwatchers and hunters in Texas. In many areas of the state, their economic value rivals that of traditional agricultural enterprises such as livestock. Unfortunately, this importance is not realized in the Southern High Plains of Texas. Land-use practices in this region of intensive...

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14. Bobwhites on the Post Oak Savannah

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pp. 248-259

The Post Oak Savannah comprises about 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres). This ecoregion is situated in east-central Texas, extending southward from the Texas-Oklahoma border for a distance of about 563 kilometers (350 miles) and varying in width from 80 to 121 kilometers (50 to 75 miles) (Parmalee 1953a; figure...

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15. Bobwhites on the Gulf Coast Prairies

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pp. 260-272

The Gulf Prairies and Marshes physiographic region of Texas extends along the coast from the Louisiana border in Orange County to the Corpus Christi Bay in Nueces County and continues south as a narrow band less than 16 kilometers (10 miles) to the southern tip of the state (figure 15.1; Gould 1962). The prairies have...

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16. Bobwhites on the South Texas Plains

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pp. 273-296

Quail management, despite an extensive foundation of knowledge, generally is perceived more as an art than a science. Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) have been studied since the beginning of the twentieth century (Scott 1985). Their life history, ecology, and habitat requirements are well known (Stoddard 1931; Rosene 1969; Lehmann...

Section III: Culture, Heritage, and Future of Texas Quails

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17. Quail Regulations and the Rule-Making Process in Texas

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pp. 299-312

Although bird hunters have always been interested in quails, there has been a developing concern about quails among birders and other conservationists. Why the growing interest in quails among nonhunters? Populations of northern bobwhites, by far the species of quail most popular among Texas bird hunters, are disappearing from portions of...

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18. Economic Aspects of Texas Quails

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pp. 313-326

In past decades throughout most of the southern United States, all a person needed to hunt quail was a shotgun, a dog, and access to habitat. Moreover, due to the proliferation of small farmsteads and the subsistence nature of the agricultural enterprises, habitat was plentiful and access quite freely granted by the farm operators...

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19. Managing and Releasing Pen-Raised Bobwhites

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pp. 327-335

The release of pen-raised northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) has been a controversial aspect of quail management for more than six decades. Initial discussions about using pen-raised quail in wildlife management focused on the eff ectiveness of the practice to augment or restore depleted wild populations of bobwhites (Clark 1942; Buechner...

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20. Operating a South Texas Quail Hunting Camp

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pp. 336-362

The San Tomas Hunting Camp was established on the Encino Division of King Ranch during the summer of 1979. It was formed as a corporate hunting facility for Blocker Energy Corporation in Houston, Texas. John Blocker was a farsighted man with close ties to the Wildlife Science Department at Texas A&M University. He made the decision to...

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21. Strategies for Forming a Quail Management Cooperative

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pp. 363-371

Quails need space! The more space—or habitat—the better. So how do landowners who own 20, 32, 41, or 81 hectares (50, 80, 100, or 200 acres) manage for wildlife species that need lots of space? They have to work cooperatively with neighbors and other partners in the community who have similar interests in wildlife. The objectives of this chapter are to introduce...

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22. Sources of Information and Technical Assistance for Quail Managers

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pp. 372-380

The recent quail population declines in Texas have stimulated interest in quail management among landowners, hunters, and other stakeholders. Brennan (1991a) recognized the importance of education in helping stem the decline of bobwhites...

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23. Effects of Quail Management on Other Wildlife

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pp. 381-406

A lucrative recreational hunting economy has emerged in South Texas and is emerging elsewhere, such as in the Rolling Plains. Typically, ranchers in South Texas can expect, on average, to net $5.00– 7.50/hectare/ year (about $2.00– 3.00/acre/year) from cattle operations. Currently, hunting leases range $20– $62/hectare/year (about $8– $25/acre/year)...

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24. The Science of Quail Management and the Management of Quail Science

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pp. 407-420

The science of quail management and the management of quail science are issues that revolve around decisions. People make decisions to accomplish objectives. In the context here, the objectives are to elevate and stabilize quail populations, and the decisions involve focusing research on knowledge defi ciencies so that we are better able to accomplish...

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25. The Future of Quail Hunting and Sustainability Science

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pp. 421-428

Given the widespread and ongoing population declines that quails continue to face in Texas, it is important to consider what the future of quail hunting will be for the next generation. It may also be of value to examine how the future of quail hunting is related to emerging concepts of sustainability science. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to...


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pp. 429-474


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pp. 475-476


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pp. 477-491

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445122
E-ISBN-10: 1603445129
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445035
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445037

Page Count: 512
Illustrations: 132 b&w photos. 5 line art. 18 maps. 26 tables. 41 graphs.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Perspectives on South Texas Series, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Kingsville