Helping Reestablish Quail on Florida Agricultural Lands
Producers Restore, Protect Habitat for Northern Bobwhite
The distinctive call of quail used to be common in the Florida countryside where coveys of northern bobwhite quail thrived. No more. The species has declined 80 percent throughout America since the 1940s.
Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial and technical assistance for agricultural producers to help bring them back.
NRCS will work with private landowners to restore and protect quail habitat in the following counties: Santa Rosa¸ Okaloosa, Walton, Jackson, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Colombia, Clay, Levy, Marion, Osceola, Baker, Citrus, Polk, Highlands, Manatee, Charlotte and Sarasota.
In Florida, this effort targets pine savannas, where NRCS is working with producers to manage forests and develop wildlife openings and the diverse understory vegetation the bobwhite needs. Bobwhites depend on early successional habitat grasslands, shrubby areas, and pine or oak savannahs. These habitats provide the forbs, legumes and insects that quail need for food and the heavy or brushy cover for nesting, brooding and safety.
When habitat is restored for the bobwhite, many other species benefit, including turkeys, deer, rabbits, gopher tortoises, bog turtles and many different songbirds, including the Bachmann’s sparrow and prairie warbler. NRCS uses the bobwhite and other wildlife as indicators of the health of the ecosystem at-large.
Helping the northern bobwhite is one of 11 such projects throughout the country for the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) program focusing on declining species on farms, ranches and working forests.
If you’re interested in technical and financial assistance from NRCS to build quail habitat on your property, contact your local USDA service center. A NRCS district conservationist will help you develop a conservation plan customized to your land and assist you in the application process for financial assistance through Farm Bill programs. Applications are accepted throughout the year, although funding selections are usually made once a year. Learn more about getting started with NRCS.
Local NRCS field office staff provide technical and financial assistance.
Bobwhite Quail provides comprehensive management information.
Wildlife Planting Guide lists plants best for quail in Florida.