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Quail Habitat

 
pollinator
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I was just reading here https://permies.com/t/homestead-native-plants about using native plants and somebody mentioned quail. I just have a little urban place, less than 1/3 of an acre, but we have wild quail that use our yard as a forage area. They come through the garden, down along the side of the house under the grapevines, then into the roses, and spread out onto the lawn area from there. I love watching them. I've been thinking about the possibility of making part of the yard into quail habitat, but I'm not sure what that means. Apparently grass and non-grassy plants with overhead protection from predators. Actually, watching a hawk eat a quail is another level of fascination, but that's not the point here.

A few years ago I was mowing the lawn and ran over a quail nest (the lawn is now defunct in that area), so grasses are probably a good addition. Sunflowers and quinoa maybe, to go with the currants and sorghum. Not that I need another project at the moment.

So, designing a quail habitat. What do they need?
 
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Are they bobwhite quail? They love Korean lezpedeza. It’s not native but also not agressive. It won’t crowd anything out. It makes nitrogen. I can’t think of anything negative about it. Farmers used to grow a lot of it here for hay. Quail also like soybeans. They can’t walk very well in fescue and other thick sods. They like bunch grasses, like native prairies.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Are they bobwhite quail?



I don't know. Probably. Just native quail that seem to like our yard.
 
master steward
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We enjoy watching the quail.  They like to use our garden to take dust baths.

We provide some shallow water pans for them in the garden.

We planted sunflowers for the quail and doves.  Unfortunately when we took the fence down we   found out how much deer love sunflowers.  I am sure the quail and dove enjoyed some too.
 
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All quail need tall grasses that produce seed heads, they also need travel lanes (un trimmed fence lines are one of their favorite travel lanes since they can also bed down in these areas) and they need cover bushes to hide from threats.
In cities it is very difficult to create spaces such that quail require simply because they look like overgrown, neglected green space and most city code enforcement laws say this sort of space is a no-no.
On the up side, there are a few cities that have actually begun to create creature habitats within their park lands and some quail have taken up residence in those spaces, along with foxes, rabbits and other small to medium sized predators and prey.

The more variation in species of grasses you can plant, the better the quail will find your set aside for them area, that equates to more of them coming to set up house keeping.
On our land, the hollow (valley floor) is most suited to growing wide swaths of native grasses and other plants, there are already some junipers with touching the ground branches that our new quail seem to like for deep cover, so they will stay, even though I may end up needing to top these particular trees.
I also make dead limb piles along the upper border and these piles are catching and holding leaves and that slows the rain runoff enough for the quail to be able to stay in place during a heavy rain.
I plan to add more of these semi-berms and add shallow swales up hill of the wood berms. I've found a free source for native grass seeds so I will be able to add buffalo grass and rice to my plantings for the quail along with some low growing broadleaf natives.
The plan is to have a fairly wide, property long swath for quail to use and hopefully thrive in, My plantings will continue for another two years before I let it work out what stays and what goes via nature's design.

We have found that the bob white quail prefers small seeds to large seeds for fodder, they also eat many different broad leaf plants like plantain so I'm now adding many of these types of natives.
Since we live way out in the country I don't have to worry about any code enforcement laws and the neighbors are far enough away that they don't care what the front of our farm looks like.
I still need to install the road front fencing and hope to get that done by the end of this summer.

Redhawk
 
Lauren Ritz
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Good ideas. I'm not too concerned about code enforcement--if I do it right I can create the habitat without making it look over-run or weedy. A matter of plant choice and placement. Future years will be more difficult as everything naturalizes, but I think it can still be done. The quail currently use the fence lines and I'll be putting in a bunch of flowering plants and bushes in the spring. Originally planned as a pollinator garden, if I shift the plan just a little I should be able to create a covered "forage lane" for the birds. Also known as a "landscape strip" along the fence where they already travel. I'll have to think about the right plants. Farther up into the yard will be easier, where it's out of sight of the road.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Sounds great Lauren, look into the small seed, heading type plants, amaranth, millet, etc. those are considered landscape plants and so shouldn't attract any unwanted attention.
 
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