Photos and Facts: Texas Bobwhite Quail

Written by: Jennifer Miller, Greystone Castle

The male bobwhite quail has bright eye markings.
All photos courtesy Greystone Castle

Do you know there are over 45 different genera of Quail? Most people are familiar with the bobwhite quail, named for its unique call. This bird is native to North America, including Mexico and the Caribbean. The bobwhite has twenty-one subspecies, one of which has been declared extinct. Here in Texas, the plains bobwhite is our most common species.

The female bobwhite have fewer black markings and more buff coloration.

This medium-sized bird feeds on seeds and bugs. Favorite seeds include partridge peas, millet, sorghum, wheat, and grass seed. Small snails, grasshoppers, and beetles are also picked from leaves and the ground. The birds typically live in grasslands or wooded edges. They forage in the open, including farmland, but are careful to keep cover close by. When danger is detected, they freeze low to the ground, flushing at the last possible moment. It is this flush that hunters live for!

Bobwhite quail pairs are monogamous and share duties for raining young.

Quail are monogamous pairs, with both parents tending to the young. The males are recognized by the white patch on their throat and a white eye stripe. Females have a buff throat and eye stripe and tend to have less black markings. Once the young take flight, the family gathers with other families creating a covey of up to two dozen birds. These coveys stay together throughout the fall and winter, huddling for warmth during cold spells. When forced to flush, the dominant birds will call the covey back together using the famous bob-WHITE whistle.

Jennifer Miller is the marketing manager at Greystone Castle, 2015 Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year, in Mingus, Texas.

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