top of page

Habitat Basics

How are we reversing the 40 year decline in quail populations in South Carolina? It's simple. We're creating and restoring more habitat and showing landowners how to do the same. These are the basic principles behind the work we do in the field.

Nesting Sites

Quail need a safe place to lay eggs

To have birds in the fall, you need to grow them in the spring and summer. This begins with nesting. Bunchgrasses like broomsedge and annual weeds make ideal nesting material and cover. Dead vegetation from prior growing seasons are also used in nest construction. These sites should be located on well-drained soil that does not flood.

Once the eggs hatch, the chicks will need places to eat and stay safe, so it is vital that nesting sites are located close to good brood rearing areas and escape cover.

nesting habitat.jpg

Broomsedge makes excellent nesting habitat

Brood Rearing Areas

Chicks need a place to grow up

Chicks survive on a diet of insects for the first ____ weeks, so annual weeds such as ragweed and partridge pea that support large quantities of bugs make ideal cover in brood rearing areas. These plants are also more open at ground level while fairly dense overhead, allowing the young birds to move around easily without being exposed to predators.

Discing and prescribed fire are the most effective and economical ways to create good brood habitat. This should be done no more than once every two years, and you should never disc or burn all the available habitat at the same time. A "quilt" pattern or one resembling a checkerboard will provide adequate habitat for the birds while the disced or burned areas regenerate.

Brood rearing habitat.JPG

Ragweed stands provide superb brood rearing cover

Escape Cover

Everything wants to eat a quail. They need safe places to hide.

Quail have a lot of predators. Once they reach maturity, having places they can hide from these predators is vital to their survival. Shrubby patches, hedgerows and briar thickets provide this type of shelter, which is why it is important to leave spots throughout areas used by quail. 

If you’d like to learn more about what makes good bobwhite habitat, download this free booklet from the SCDNR 

bottom of page