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Facts about the Northern Bobwhite Quail

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The northern bobwhite quail is a small rotund, ground dwelling bird. Adults grow to about 10 inches long with 15-inch wingspan. This quail has a mottled brown, buff, white, black and gray body with a short, dark tail. Males have a white throat with a white brow stripe. Females and immature quail have buff-colored throats and eye bands. The northern bobwhite quail range is concentrated in the central and eastern portion of the United States. Northern bobwhite quail can also be found in Washington, Oregon and parts of eastern Mexico. In Maryland, bobwhite quail can be found throughout the state, but the largest populations can be found in southern Maryland as well as on the Eastern Shore.

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The bobwhite quail can usually be found year round in brushy pastures, hedgerows, and grasslands and woodlands with sufficient cover and food. Quail are usually not far from thick vegetation such as low shrubs and brambles that they use to escape from predators. They utilize grasses and weeds for nesting and raising young. Often, the right combination of these habitat types are found in weedy fencerows, woodland edges, roadsides and at the edge of agricultural fields.

While the northern bobwhite quail's diet contains a variety of vegetation, seeds, and insects, the majority of their diet consists of seeds from annual plants. Common grain crops such as corn, sorghum, wheat and soybeans are often highly sought after in addition to various legumes like lespedezas and partridge peas. The quail’s diet also varies by season and age. In the spring, males and females will leave their groups to pair off, court and mate. The male and the female choose a nest site together on the ground in dense brush, and both help build a shallow depression lined with grass and leaves. They often weave other materials into an arch over the nest.

After the nest is built, the female generally will lay one egg a day. The average clutch size is 12 to 15 eggs. The female is mostly responsible for egg incubation, though occasionally the male will also assist. The eggs incubate for 23 to 24 days, and the young leave the nest shortly after hatching. Both parents will lead the young birds to food and will care for them for 14–16 days until their first flight. These birds can raise 1-2 broods annually. The male’s call consists of a clear, whistled “bob-white” or “poor, bob-white.” In addition, bobwhites also make a variety of clucks.

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