Friday, July 31, 2009


Colinus virginianus

Growing up, I knew this bird as "a Quail". Since there's only one type of quail in Alabama, there's no confusion. I also heard them called Bobwhites, and some people put both together: Bobwhite quail. The standard name is Northern Bobwhite, but you'll be considered an egghead if you go around calling it that.

Our place was so manicured when we first moved here, that we never heard Bobwhites. A few years of "the natural look" was more to their liking, and now it's not unusual to hear them singing. It never fails to make me a little happier, every time I hear one.

Yesterday my husband discovered one walking down our driveway. Between a fogged lens and zero cover between us and the quail, I never thought to get a photo, let alone one this close. But this bedraggled individual seemed almost as curious about us as we were about him, allowing us closer than almost any wild bird I've ever encountered. He wasn't stupid though - he walked off into the brush just as we reached him.

Bobwhites are in decline, and I suspect that their numbers here are probably hurt by the huge increase in armadillos in recent years. (They're ground-nesting birds.)


Click here to hear a Bobwhite calling. We got close enough yesterday to hear an endearing little quiet chirping noise that he was making.

Visit the Friday Ark.


R.Powers said...

I'm partial to them too, but they are a rare sight around here. I blame the rising coyote and fireant population, but I struggle with the fact that the turkeys (groundnesters 2) are abundant.

So I think in reality, it may be we have lost the right kind of habitat and food plants that these guys need.

I don't know the answer obviously, but I do know I miss the feeling of being startled out of your shoes by a cove suddenly taking off at your feet.

MamaHen said...

I hear them fairly often and remember hearing them a lot as a child but have never seen one up close. Supposedly, the wildflowers I planted, that did so well, are these guys favorite hangout.

Ericka said...

we have some across the street from my work. i hear them calling sometimes as i walk to and from my jeep and it also perks up my day.

Lythrum said...

Congratulations on the awesome shot. :)

swamp4me said...

Bobwhites are one of my favorites. I absolutely love to see a pair herding their little ones about. I am also quite partial to eavesdropping on their family conversations - quite distinct from their territorial calls.

Rurality said...

FC, we hear them a lot more than we see them. I hadn't thought about fire ants! Yeah I know that startled feeling, especially from being at my grandmother's house as a kid.

Annie, Hubby says he sees them, but I think this may be the first one I've actually seen here at our place, though we do hear them all the time. I've always seen them on the road nearby.

Ericka, it's just so cheery, you can't help yourself. :)

Thanks, Lythrum!

Swampy, I have once seen that once! They are adorable as chicks. Wish I could get this close more often.

SantaBarbarian said...

I love our little California Quails. They are so funny looking with that little fashionable "tuft" on their forehead. And they make the most unusual cluck/squeek sound.

inlander said...

I only got to flush a covey, all totally unexpected, once--cool/startling/fun. I do think habitat change is more a factor than coyotes, but true there are plenty of things which eat chicks, and eggs. I really miss hearing them now we are citypeople. We used to rent a trailer in the country which had a tiny back porch, and both springs we were there, I could watch 2 quail families on their little run down by the woods edge. Always single file, a parent in front, then younguns, 2 parents in the middle, more younguns, and 4th parent at the rear. I miss whipporwills too. That trailer site also had whipporwills come in close, and out by the road we would sometimes hear a poor wills widow--way cool, the sound of them calling at the same time.

Pamela said...

my daddy always talked about BobWhites -- although I've never seen one.

We do have California Quail here - which call and make interesting sounds

threecollie said...

We used to have them right down the road from here, where I grew up. I loved them. Now you never hear them. We really aren't in their range and I wonder if the ones we heard as kids were stocked...

bill said...

Loss of habitat is the most prominent reason for the decline of this wonderful bird. Subdivisions, commercial development, and agriculture and all impact the bob-white.

Perhaps these aren't issues that face your particular area. Predators are seldom the reason for any long lasting declines.

I really like your blog, by the way.


Heather said...

He's so cute! I didn't know armadillos ate birds' eggs, that's so unfortunate for these precious little guys. Thanks for posting the picture.

Anonymous said...

Everything i have read says its cats, tame and feral, that are decimating the quail populations in this country. Cats can get into quail hiding places that coyotes, foxes, birds of prey and armadillos (do they really kill quail?) can't.

Cynthia in N. Ca

lisa said...

We always had them nesting nearby in Indiana when I was a kid, but the local feline population got to them (though nowadays IN has lots of coyotes, too). I LOVE their call and cute chirpy of my favorite old BF's used to raise them in a big "flight pen"...their numbers need help big time, IMO!