Last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted an update on our beloved quail restoration project!
From the Inquirer article:
More than 40 quail have survived and thrived – a high number considering the relocation from their native Georgia and adjustment to new and colder surroundings, said New Jersey Audubon.
About 15 nests and 127 eggs were discovered during an August survey, said Audubon officials. Sixty-six eggs hatched in the wild, and by late October, researchers captured and placed a radio transmitter collar on their first born-and-raised New Jersey quail from the group – a 180-gram male who was larger than most of the adults. The birds, on average, weigh less than a half-pound.
Everyone involved with the project is pleased. “We hope that helping to reestablish bobwhite quail back to the South Jersey landscape, more people will recognize the need for more active stewardship and conservation of our lands in order to preserve a diversity of many native species and sustain the ecological services that these habitats also provide us,” says John Parke of New Jersey Audubon.
The big test, however, was the blizzard that had been forecast for the region. (Theron Terhune, game bird program director for Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, said at the time: “Finding nests. . .is exciting, as this confirms that those individuals released are indeed reproducing, giving us great hope going forward. . .I would just feel better knowing in March and April how the birds fared.”)
Fortunately, John Parke was able to get back to us with great news: NJ Audubon staff and research partners were able to verify that all radio collared Northern Bobwhite are doing well following the blizzard! This is in large part due to the efforts of our forest manager, Bob Williams. Per the NJ Audubon release: “The release site at Pine Island Cranberry has been stewarded through the implementation of a Forest Stewardship Plan, creating patches of young forest habitat suitable for quail and rich in cover and food resources. In addition, the wild birds are known to more quickly adapt and yield offspring that also exhibit innate survival instincts.”
“While we still have a bit of winter to go, seeing that the quail have made it through this first significant weather event since their release in NJ, helps to reinforce the message that. . .[w]ith stewardship and management high quality habitat can be created, yielding a diversity of native species and providing the ecological services that these habitats historically and naturally provided,” he says.
Thank you to project researcher Kaili Stevens for the video, and thanks to all the people working so hard to make this all happen!
*All photos courtesy John Parke.