This week on Discover Nature, listen for the clear, loud calls of ground-dwelling birds just before dawn.
Missouri’s native quail – Northern bobwhite live in groups of 5-30 birds, called coveys, from autumn to spring.
Northern bobwhite are streaked or mottled reddish-brown and white, with a gray tail. Males have a distinctive dark brown cap and face. Their camouflaged colors help protect them from their many predators including foxes, coyotes, racoons, hawks, owls, and snakes.
These birds are primarily seedeaters, but they also help eliminate many undesirable weeds and insects. In winter acorns and pine seeds become important food sources.
Northern bobwhite are still fairly common statewide in grasslands, shrubby pastures, hedgerows, and woodland edges. However, populations have declined in recent decades primarily due to habitat loss and unfavorable weather during winter and nesting season.
Listen for the early-morning song of these native quail and watch for their excited eruptions on fall nature hikes.
Learn more about Missouri’s native quail and find great places to hike where you’re likely to see these popular gamebirds with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.