Common Names Bobs, partridge, quail, American colin.
Description This small, chunky game bird has a mottled brown back and wings, and a grayish tail. On the cock, the face is patterned with white and black; on the hen, white and buff.
Size Adults measure 9 to 10 inches long and weigh 6 to 8 ounces.
Habitat Bobwhite quail live in brushlands, abandoned fields and open pine lands throughout most of the eastern half of the United States and into Mexico. They also have been introduced into Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Bobwhites are better adapted to cold weather than other quail, but can thrive in hot, semi-arid climates, if they have a reliable water source.
Movement The birds generally spend their entire lives in an area of 40 acres or less.
Food Habits This bird feeds on hundreds of different kinds of plant seeds, mainly those of grasses, forbs and legumes. They also eat acorns, pine seeds, berries, soybeans, corn and insects.
Bobwhites typically feed in crop fields and meadows both early and late in the day, taking cover in wood lots, bottom lands and ditches during midday. In dry areas, the birds generally feed near streams, ponds and man-made watering devices.
Breeding After attracting a hen with his namesake call, a whistled "bob-bob-white," the male scratches out a shallow nest in grassy or brushy ground. He lines the nest with grass and covers part of it with a grassy dome. The hen then lays 12 to 16 eggs, which hatch in about 23 days.
Social Interaction Bobwhites normally gather in coveys of 10 to 15 birds. When roosting, they sit on the ground in a ring, facing outward with tails together, allowing them to conserve energy and watch for predators.
Besides the familiar "bob-bob-white" call, the birds make a "whoo-ee-whoo" rallying call to regroup a broken-up covey.
Population Declining. This birds numbers have dropped in recent decades, due to the loss of small farms and the trend toward "clean farming," which has reduced thickets and weedy cover.
Hunting Strategies A typical quail hunt involves using a wide-ranging pointing dog to pin down coveys so hunters can approach for close shots. When a covey is flushed, carefully mark the location of individual birds. They will usually hold tight for a second flush.
Eating Quality Excellent; the white breast meat is
among the tastiest of all upland birds.