LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Every Thursday on "THV 11 News at Noon" we feature a different bird you can find in the state of Arkansas. Today we're featuring the Northern Bobwhite.
Sarah Baxter with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission chats with Stefanie Bryant and Sarah Fortner more about the bird.
The Northern Bobwhite is a type of quail, often referred to simply as Bobwhite or Bobwhite Quail. It is the only quail species in Arkansas, and as such is not easily confused for any other species.
It is round-bodied, with a short tail and neck, and has a small round head with a slight crest. Its plumage is reddish brown to gray with a pale throat and eye stripe that is white in the male, and buffy in the female. The species range is statewide year-round. It is a secretive species that prefers grasslands, shrublands, savanna, and other early successional habitats.
Northern Bobwhite feed primarily on seeds, but may consume green vegetation and insects on occasion. It is most often heard rather than seen. Its distinctive call (for which it is named) announces its presence with a loud, clear "Bob-Bob-WHITE!" Males are setting up territories and, where they are present, can be heard calling during this time of year.
They build their nest on the ground and lay 14 - 16 cream-colored eggs. The young are precocial, meaning they are able to walk and find food (young primarily consume insects) immediately upon hatching. Family groups may stay together through late winter.
A good place to try and see Northern Bobwhite is at the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge and some of the reforestation areas there, or in pine-bluestem habitat in the Ouachita National Forest near Waldron.
This is an important game bird that has suffered steep declines throughout most of its range. The cause for decline is primarily due to loss of habitat and travel corridors via changes in land use and farming practices. When some of the older generations of Arkansans talk about "bird hunting", quail is what they are talking about. We still have a quail hunting season in Arkansas, though it is not nearly as popular as it once was for most of today's hunters due to the lack of birds present.
The AGFC has several programs in place that are designed to help our quail population. Most of those programs are centered around creation of habitat and travel corridors on private lands. If you would like to learn more about those programs, you can contact the AGFC Quail/ Small Game Program Coordinator, Clifton Jackson at 501-223-6471.