It occurred to me the other day that I had not seen any quail for a while around this farm. This is one the areas of primary range for the Bobwhite quail so I like to keep some areas for them. There have been reports of declines in numbers for this bird. These are delicate birds need a variety of habitats. Today I looked outside of one window and noticed some around the carport. Elated I went to grab the camera but when I got back they were nowhere to be seen.
What do I do to help with habitat management
They like clumps of grass. Native prairie grasses with their clump-type growth form are ideal nest cover . They need clumps they can walk to but give overhead protection.
Most quail dye during the brood period. Quail chick need to be able to move at ground level but still have overhead concealment and a variety of green plants or plant parts within pecking reach. This is about two to three inches high. The ground cover needs to be very open with greens to also attract all types of insects they will eat. Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects are most of their diet for the first three weeks. This is why burned areas and just till areas are popular with the quail. The area I saw the quail I had just cleaned out the day before. The garden area is next to the row of wild plum bushes giving cover.
I do not do a while lot of burning but I just might burn the acre I am not using for agriculture. It is mostly grassland. Burning make me nervous so I will likely not do it but I have years ago done so.
Disking and Mowing
I just might do a path mow in the grassland area to give the birds an easy travel route. I am still in the process of deciding where a good place for a feeder would be. You want it accessible but in an area safe.
I am preparing the area of the garden for legume planting. Korean lespedeza, ladino clover, white clover, red clover, and subterranean clover and alfalfa. These can be broad cast seeded in the winter.
Half Cutting and Shrub Planting
I have planted hedge rows in areas around my property for birds. In the future I plant to do half-cutting of cedar and other plants to create a living bush pile. You do this by cutting a tree 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through leaving a hinge of bark attached so that the tree falls. Hedging laying is an old fence method used in europe to keep livestock in and has the added advantage of serving as a habitat for birds.
Learning to grow sweet potatos and potatoes are important for growing vegetables for calories. I suggest everyone with a garden grow a few to have the skills needed to grow them.
My sweet potatoes were harvested yesterday and are now in the curing stage. Now the best harvest this year but with the potaotes I should have almost enough for the year. The soil was still very moist so the soil stayed on. When they get dryer I will clean them better. I put them in a cloth bag in the car port to help the starches form into sugars. As soon as they are dry enough to clean I will clean them better and bring insde to finish curing to avoid frost damage. If you live in an area that freezes you will want to harvest before a hard freeze. This can damage the potatoes if frozen and decay from frozen vines can affect the potatoes.
Curing can be done in 10 to 14 day. It is best to have them in a warm area. The temperature should be around 80-85 F with high humility. Afte curing you can put them in a cooler area with lower humility.