Margaret Watson Bird Club presents ‘Those Crazy Bobwhites’

Published 6:13 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Margaret Watson Bird Club welcomes the community to a presentation on “Those Crazy Bobwhites” on Thursday, March 7, at the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library at 1303 W. Third St., Farmville. Refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and presentation at 7 p.m. For the last 11 years Marc Puckett has worked with the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries as the Small Game/ Quail Project Leader. His talk will focus on results of the latest and greatest research and management findings. Some of the material he will present will surprise those who have held traditional but inaccurate beliefs about bobwhites.

The stark decline of the Northern Bobwhite quail population in the eastern United States has been well-documented and lamented. They have been nearly absent from the last decade of Christmas Bird counts conducted by the Margaret Watson Bird Club. The Virginian Wildlife Action Plan of 2015 lists them as a Tier 3a species. That means “high conservation need; populations are in decline.” The letter “a” means there are plans in place that show promise. Puckett will review current, effective measures to preserve this little feathered bombshell. Habitats suitable for quail will also benefit field sparrows, towhees, thrashers, Prairie Warblers, bumble bees and the Monarch Butterfly. Whether you have open land, overgrown fields or forests, there are management techniques that can benefit quail and other early successional species.

“To anyone who’s ever been charmed by their presence or challenged by their flight, the appeal of bobwhite quail does not diminish. Unfortunately, their numbers have. In Virginia, an estimated 70 percent decline in bobwhite population since the mid-1960s may seem conservative to some, as quail are now gone from many of their former locations. Most responsible has been the decades-long era of modern land-use that has severely reduced the availability of suitable habitat. Throughout their history, the fortunes of bobwhites have been determined far more by chance than design. With few exceptions, the applied management of quail habitat has been overlooked or disregarded. As current land practices continue to work against the bobwhite, landowners wishing to have quail on their property must now consciously apply the practices necessary to meet the bobwhite’s needs.” From https://www. managing-your-land/ management-for-specific-quail-habitat-needs.

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Puckett has worked with DGIF for 23 years, the last 11 as Small Game/ Quail Project Leader. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree from Virginia Tech and his master’s research was on quail at North Carolina State University. He is co-author of the Wildlife Division’s Small Game Committee’s Northern Bobwhite Quail Action Plan. He has helped conduct field research on bears, quail and fox squirrels.