The 2007-8 Season Update

    I have waited this long to update because I had hoped with the increasing day lengths that ther might be something new to report in regards to my birds’ behavior this year. There has not been much change from last year regarding the birds behavior other than timing which I will mention below.  One slight improvement is that I did not lose as many birds due them going elsewhere.   There was still no recalling from the birds at a volume loud enough to be heard any distance.  I believe they were, although not responding with calls, returning to the pen because of hearing my electronic callback device.  The only other explanation might be that they, like most creatures, do have somewhat of a homing instinct and just found their way back.

    Timing this year was interesting and confusing.  In the original article on pen raised birds I pointed out that I released birds permanently from my quail pen usually around or before mid-April.  Re-entering cones were blocked at that time.  The trigger events for doing that was when the cocks started whistling bob-white, and the hens started laying eggs.  I haven’t heard any “bob-whites” since spring of 2002.   That seemed to be correlated with no egg laying by the hens since then.  Early this month (June) they did, however, start laying (still no “bob-whites.” ) Also some of them, during this same period of time started producing a normal covey call loud enough to be heard a quarter mile.   I have no explanation for what is going on other than what I mentioned on the previous two updates...  instincts unintentionally bred out.  I also might add that it appears that this problem is spreading and is not just here in Georgia. The article by John Yates in Field Trial Magazine supports this.

    Interesting observations regarding feed were made this year. I located a source of feed grade soybeans and added them to my feed mixture which was described in previous updates..  What was fascinating to me was the preferences of the birds.   They changed with the time of the year with regards to some of the ingredients.  The sequence appeared to parallel preferences of native wild quail.  Early in the season millet is the preferred feed; they didn’t touch the sunflower seeds nor the soybeans. By the end of the season this was reversed. They would not  touch the millet then but gobbled down the sunflower seeds and soybeans first.  Cracked corn, wheat, and milo seem to fall somwhere in the middle.  Makes one wonder if this is some sort of inherited biological clock corresponding with availabilty in the wild or if it is only a matter of beak size and as they grow they prefer the larger seeds.  That would have a survivability factor in wild because of less time required to feed on large seeds and thus less vulnerabilty to hawks, etc.

    Last year I ran across a new predator control device for nightime predators. It is a solar-powered device called Nite Guard illustrated here.
 

Rather than go into details here you are referred to the  Nite Guard website. I will only say that it appeared to work here in my case.


    In the ‘05 addendum I mentioned adding nylon netting inside the hardware cloth mounted on the inside edge of the 2X4 framing. The purpose of this was to decrease fraying of the primaries which occurs when birds beat their wings against hardware cloth.

The nylon netting served this purpose well and birds flew much better.  Two new problems arose which I will deal with on the next round.  One problem was that birds sometimes broke through the netting and became trapped between the nylon netting and the hardware cloth thus badly fraying their feathers. My solution for next time is stronger netting.   The other problem was litter from inside the pen accumulating on the bottom plate (2X4) between the internal nylon netting and the
external hardware cloth.
 
This is not an immediate problem but through years it would accumulate and create environment conducive to rot on the base vertical (untreated) framing. Bottom plates are pressure treated.  Solution is for the netting to have smaller openings than the current netting. Might also add that a couple of times snakes came in through the cones and became entangled in the nylon netting..... extracting them was no fun.

Received the following email from Tommy Graham in Texas:

I can’t remember the exact dates of the releases but I made two releases last year. Each release on separate ranches but involved two surrogators. One ranch is a place that use to have a pretty good population of quail but hasn’t had any for the past few years. I released birds there in about July. After the release I didn’t go back there to run dogs on them until right before bird season, in late November. Didn’t find any birds.
 
The second ranch has a small population of quail so that time I used Tennessee Reds, so we could tell if we got into released birds or native birds. I released those birds probably in mid-late September. During muzzle loading deer season, late November, a friend reported seeing a hawk dive into a covey of red quail and the location was about 150 yards or so from where I had one of the surrogators. After bird season opened, we went back there on two occasions with dogs but never found any of the birds.
 
I’m going to try again this year & I’ll let you know how it goes. One thing I’m going to do this time is I’m going to run dogs on the birds a few days after release to see if I can locate them. If I do I will occasionally run dogs on them to try & keep track. I think maybe busting the birds up like that will help train them to relocate & covey up.

This coming season if I can find good birds I will again try (1) modification of surrogate system for two covies, (2) Gerald Moore's idea on day olds imprinting on cock bird and cock bird taking care of them for immediate release of newly hatched chicks, and (3) my conventional system previously described in first article.

Feedback appreciated,
Frank