Bobwhite Quail Makes Comeback In Mo., Thanks To Hot Dry Summer

Oct 27, 2012

This summer’s devastating drought and heat wave actually benefited some of Missouri’s native birds, in particular the bobwhite quail.

Bobwhite quail build their nests on the ground, and the hot and dry weather from both this summer and last provided better conditions for incubation.  Max Alleger is a wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).  He says the bobwhite quail population took a big hit in 2008 due to record-setting rainfall, as it was hard for them to keep their eggs warm on wet ground.

“And for those which (did) hatch, the very small chicks did not thermo regulate well for the first few weeks of their life," Alleger said.  "They can experience hypothermia if they can’t get out in the sunshine and dry the morning dew off, warm up and maintain a warm body temperature.”

Alleger says other ground-nesting birds in Missouri also benefited from the hot, dry summer, including turkeys and the endangered Greater Prairie Chicken.  Meanwhile, the unseasonably warm winter last year also helped ground-nesting birds to thrive.