Cobble Hill Farm in Staunton Virginia released pen raised Northern Bobwhites in December of 2012. I interviewed Jim Pile, the farm’s manager on October 1st 2013 for this article and I could hear Quail giving their “Hoy-ee” call. Click on the hot link above to go a website with the call.
“We didn’t have Quail before but we do now”, Jim tells me. “We saw one covey with young birds back in July and we can hear them throughout the farm”.
Now, there’s no way to tell if the ones that reproduced are from the one’s they released or from someone else’s released birds or from wild ones but one thing is certain: Quail reproduced at Cobble Hill Farm in 2013.
The experts don’t encourage releasing pen raised birds because of a very low survival rate using pen raised birds. Some don’t last even an hour and most don’t last a month.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO THE RIGHT TO SEE A 50 SECOND VIDEO OF THE PEN-RAISED BIRDS.
I asked Jim what he thinks contributed to their success.
“It’s habitat and how we farm”, he said.
He elaborated, “We have a diversity of habitats and we don’t mow our pastures. This provides cover and food throughout the farm. We also manage our deer population. Too many deer can damage Quail habitat”.
They also have “wildlife food plots” with lots of annual grains and forbes that help Quail and other wildlife.
Cobble Hill Farm participated in USDA’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) to establish several acres of native meadow. For a complete recipe on how to plant a native meadow click here.
Last December Jim released about 35 mature pen-raised birds in their native meadow that is now about six years old. As we walked through the meadow the Indian grass, Big Bluestem and Switchgrass were over our heads. This is the habitat where they released the birds in the darkness of night.
Three important things to remember:
*Establish and maintain good Quail habitat.
*Don’t mow everything – manicured pastures and lawns are wildlife deserts.
*Don’t ever give up.
If you would like some Quail or want to establish habitat send me an email, I will be glad to help you. Call Jim Pile directly at 540-480-0917 to purchase some Northern Bobwhites.
Virginia and USDA have excellent Quail habitat establishment programs with funds to help. I can get you in contact with the right people and right programs for you.
Thanks Bobby! Great success story and a project I am looking forward to undertaking here at Cool Spring! As always, thanks for great information.
Glad to know someone is hearing quail in the Valley! I think the key part of your blog is the fact that the native meadow was 5-6 years old before re-introducing the birds. It speaks to the fact that these projects time, effort, patience and above all else maintenance to see them succeed. It takes a while to undo decades of destruction. Kudos to Cobble Hill Farm and Jim. I hope to hear reports of successful clutches in the future.
Thanks for stopping in Seth and for your comments.
Cobble Hill Farm should be congratulated for their exceptional efforts in re-establishing quail.
Past efforts in other areas have had challenges maintaining the coveys past the first 2 years. I hope this will be an exception and will look forward to updates on the status of these efforts over the coming months and years.
I especially like your 3rd point – “Don’t ever give up”!
Joe, good to hear from you! We hope they make it another year. It was definitely an exception just to make it through the winter. It’s the habitat that made it possible.
It is so pleasing to hear a quail success story. I have been at it for 7 years with no success.I expecially like the quote Don’t Give Up. I need Jim Pile Have a wonderful day.
Dave, good to hear from you. You should have Quail! You have habitat…
This is a very tremendous effort and fortunately is was successful. Hopefully this group of bobwhites will continue to reproduce and spread as a population. I want to get into wildlife rehabilitation and reintroduction when i’m older with species that are near threatened or endangered like the bobwhite, though it is a lot easier said than done. I appreciate the efforts from Professor Whitescarver, Jim Pile, and plenty of others for taking an altruistic approach towards protecting wildlife.
Bobby, again, you a keeper of the world, you and Jim Pile this time. I know how exquisite and integral are Quail. One of my zillion fondest memories as a child was coming upon a beautiful nest of a wild Quail in an old cemetery near where I grew up. Your actions today may help more children treasure and have reverence for such things fifty years hence.
Hey Roger and Bernice, thanks so much for your kind words and wonderful story. We will find a way to make good things happen.
Hi Bobby-I want to commend the Cobble Hill landowner for establishing good meadow habitat and caring about quail. Since I assume these released birds were not marked there is no way of knowing if the birds you are hearing are his released birds, a neighbors’ released birds, or perhaps some wild birds that hung on somewhere nearby and have moved into this habitat ? However, I think one needs to be VERY careful saying he “successfully re-established Northern Bobwhites from pen-raised birds.” While this perhaps depends on what one’s definition of “success” is, we are not aware of any sustainable populations of bobwhite quail being established using pen-reared birds. You can check the scientific literature on this. If releasing pen reared birds “worked” to actually re-establish wild populations, ALL of us in the wildlife restoration field would be suggesting it and I don’t know of anyone who is.
The good news is that suitable quail meadows (and other necessary habitat ) support a lot of other native species even if wild quail do not exist in close enough proximity to ever use the meadows, shrub thickets, etc that bobwhites require.
Ned, thanks very much for your well thought out post. And I agree, there is no way we can say if they were his released birds, a neighbor’s or wild birds. The great news is, there were no Quail, and somehow, a pair did survive and successfully reproduce. And since we had no tracker we cannot say for sure if these pen-raised birds were the ones that actually made it. I also hope you noticed in the second paragraph in my post that there is a direct link to Dr. Harper’s article that strongly suggests this will not work.
I can’t help it, I’ve got that eternal optimistic gene that sometimes gets me in trouble.
All the best, Ned.
This is great to hear, Bobby! When growing up near White Stone, the ‘Bob-White’ and whipper-will calls were daily occurrances that I’ve always associated with home. Now, sadly, I seldomly hear them when visiting my parents. I’m so happy to hear that people are making great strides in the quail’s conservation / rebound. Hopefully, my future kids will be able to hear them when visiting their grandparents. Hats off to Jim. =)
Hey Natalie, thanks for stopping by and posting a note. I sincerely hope your children will be able to hear Bobwhites! Let’s keep working on it.
Kudos to cobble hill farm. Everybody wants to take giant leaps of progress in wildlife rehabilitation, yet aren’t willing to start out with baby steps. This is a prime example of how we should be taking the time, patience, and consideration towards the population. I think it’s key to point out that he released them into a native meadow which was six years old. Patience is key. I also love that he is participating in the USDA’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) ! That should be thoroughly used amongst conservationist and farmers in all regions of the United States.
Are you still raising bobwhite and what type of success are you having?
Ernie, we still have one hanging around. We stopped releasing pen-raised birds because Cobble Hill no longer raises them. But, while we were releasing them, they did reproduce and I believe if we keep on releasing them they would become established.