Desert Quail and Water

Many quail experts say desert quail do not need water.  Maybe so, but here is the ‘rest of the story’: in the desert, if you are looking for quail, look near water.

Furthermore, not all quail experts agree: Dr. Fred Guthery told QuailMasters 2009 that on reflection, after all the quail work he has done, water additions are the practice he would most readily repeat.

Here are some blues on a cattle drinker modified so it can be used by small animals and quail.

ICAM0003

Texas Sporting Journal: Drinkers Welcome

Story by: JOHN R. MEYER

If you are the type who drives down the interstate west of San Antonio and thinks, “This place looks desolate.” Then you’ve probably never gotten out of your car and looked around. Certainly, it is a rugged environment, but a closer look reveals all but one ingredient for abundant life—water.

At all levels, water is a basic and irreplaceable component for survival. A map of an arid region will show springs prominently marked. If not accompanied by nearby settlement, then they are almost always surrounded by an intact ranch. Entire towns owe their very existence to the proximity of a dependable water source.

Adding water to a location where little to none previously existed can have the same dramatic effect on wildlife. An ability to extract it from food sources, as well as anatomical and physiological methods of making the most of what is available, enables life to exist in areas of Texas with less than 10 inches of rain a year. Adding a permanent water source though, concentrates wildlife in dramatic fashion.

Water access constructed of cement with tanks in the background–water is collected here by damming up the drainage immediately behind the tanks

ABOVE IS A TEXAS SPORTING JOURNAL ARTICLE PRAISING ARTIFICIAL WATER.  THE PICTURED WATERER IS PART OF A ‘GUZZLER’ ARRAY PAID FOR BY THE TEXAS BIGHORN SOCIETY (TBS) AND DESIGNED BY TP&WD.  IT IS LOCATED IN VICTORIO CANYON AT THE SIERRA DIABLO WMA.  THE WATERER CANNOT BE USED BY QUAIL AND IS A HAZARD TO QUAIL WHICH COULD DROWN TRYING TO DRINK FROM IT.  ROTTING DROWNED BIRDS IN THE WATER BECOME A HAZARD FOR WHATEVER USES THE DRINKER. ALL-TOO-OFTEN, WILDLIFE IS MANAGED FOR ONE SPECIES – IN THIS CASE SHEEP – RATHER THAN FOR AN ENTIRE ANIMAL COMMUNITY.

Posted by Chris Gill

  1. Great site you possess here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I actually appreciate people like you! Be cautious!!

    Reply

    1. Thanks, we continue to find that quail coveys will anchor to sites near water.

      Sincerely
      Chris

      Reply

  2. Hi Chris, I referenced your article in one of my articles. Your reference to Dr. Guthery’s quote about adding water sources was very helpful.

    We heard about declining bird populations near Midland Texas due to an extended drought. The rangers and hunters in the area were quite interested in using our product that produces water from air in remote locations because their rain and dew capture guzzlers had all dried out. Our system produces the most water during sunny days and is immune to drought so it seemed like a good fit.

    My article is: https://airsolarwater.com/support-desert-wildlife-and-bio-diversity-during-drought/

    I would love to collaborate with you and test the concept at your ranch. One question I am still trying to answer is how many birds can we support with a unit to supplies 1/2 gallon of water per day. I am actually more interested in the related question: What density of units do we need to support the maximum density of birds that could survive on local feed eg 3 units per acre? Do you know the answer?

    Reply

    1. Dear Joseph,

      Thank you very much for this question I am embarrassed to be so long in answering.

      As you know there is a debate about whether or not supplemental water is necessary for desert quail. There is no answer that will satisfy the experts: I will say that if you want to find a covey, go to a water point.

      I don’t think the quail need much water. Half a gallon a day is plenty. But other animals will drink, and of course you don’t want the big animals to harm the device with trampling.

      Regarding density. That’s just a guess insofar as my response goes. When we do a quail line we put the water points about 1000 feet apart. But if you do a quail road three per mile or one per half mile might work on these big open ranges: The biggest mistake is not enough roads. Feeding the roads before hunting, with milo, really helps.

      By all means let’s explore this.

      Sincerely,

      Reply

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