Bobwhite Quail

From Ohio History Central


Scientific Name: Colinus virginianus
Habitat: Farmlands with brushy fencerows; woods; meadows; and crop fields.
Adult Weight: 6 - 7.5 oz.
Adult Body Length: 9 - 11 inches
Nesting Period: May - September; peak late June -early July
Broods Per Year: 1
Clutch Size: 10-25 per clutch
Life Expectancy: 1 year or less
Foods: Corn; soybeans; weed and grass seeds; sassafras; sumac; poison ivy; wild grape and insects


The bobwhite quail is named after its whistling "bobwhite" song it makes.


19th Century

The bobwhite quail did not expand their range into Ohio until the beginning of the 19th century when more and more farmlands were created. Their range reached the Great Lakes by the middle of the century. Populations peaked between 1875 and 1900. In the late 19th century, hunters took large numbers of quail, with reports of one or two hunters shooting more than 100 birds a day.

20th Century

As farming practices improved, the quail's habitat began to disappear. That, along with over hunting, caused populations to decline. The state of Ohio banned quail hunting between 1912 and 1916. In 1917, its status was changed from a game bird to a song bird. It returned to its game bird status in 1949, however hunting did not resume until 1959.

The blizzard of 1977-78 reduced quail populations by 90%. Since that time, only the southwestern and south central areas of the state show recovery, with scattered populations throughout the state where there is proper habitat.

In the 1980s, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources attempted to release farm-reared quail, but they lacked the instincts needed to survive in the wild. They are currently relocating wild birds from both out of state and areas with larger populations to areas with little quail. During November, hunting is permitted in only 18 counties in southwestern and southcentral Ohio.

With changes in large land use including extensive urbanization, and the breaking up and conditions of intensive habitats, there is no way for the bobwhite quail to fully recover.

See Also


  1. Peterjohn, John. The Birds of Ohio; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN; 1989.
  2. Trautman, Milton B. "The Ohio Country form 1750 to 1977 - A Naturalist's View," Ohio Biological Survey No. 10. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 1977.