Midsummer Quail Report: California

  • 7/25/2018 11:10:43 AM
1985ae62-bad7-4f26-b7f7-f5b7ffd16e6e By Chad Love - Editor, Quail Forever


The winter of 2017-2018 was drier than normal throughout most of the state,” says Katherine Miller, upland game bird biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Rain in northern California in March and in the Sierra in April may have helped to trigger nest initiation and provided habitat critical for nest and chick survival. Anecdotally, populations at a Wildlife Management Area in the Central Coast were high going into the nesting season, and 2-month-old young were reported in mid-June in northern California, indicating egg-laying in mid-March.”


“Habitat is generally good across the state,” says Miller. “Wildfires are affecting nesting season for quail in certain areas. Most notable are the Klamathon and County fires, 36,500 and 90,288 acres, respectively, which have reduced available nesting habitat and thus affected local quail populations.”


“The department collaborated with the National Wild Turkey Federation on two projects," says Miller. “The first was to control invasive species and provide native grasslands for California quail on Knoxville Wildlife Area, one of the department’s wildlife areas in the North Coast region. The second was to provide habitat for mountain quail in the Eldorado National Forest of the Sierra. These efforts provide more habitat for quail, improving population numbers, and thus providing more opportunities for hunting in the winter."


According to Miller, the high precipitation in the winter of 2016-2017 was critical for quail populations that were low during the preceding drought. “Staff recently completed the analysis of the 2017 North American Breeding Bird Survey, and found regional increases for mountain quail populations in the North Coast and Modoc, California quail populations in the Modoc, South Coast, and Bay regions, and Gambel’s quail populations in the Desert region,” says Miller. “Quail numbers were high approaching the 2017-2018 hunting season, and we anticipate that the quail populations were good going into the 2018 breeding season, while local environmental effects like wildfire will impact some populations.”