Winter Feeding Habits of West Texas Desert Quail

Circle Ranch biologist Mark Tyson and Son Adjust a Game Camera at Quail Feed-Block Station, July 2010

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In July, 2010 Mark Tyson and Louis Harveson completed the very-interesting paper posted above. The subject is the winter-feeding habits of Scaled and Gambel’s quail.  I am fairly certain it is the first such study to be done on desert quail in far-West Texas.  We know very little about these animals in our desert grasslands.

Our quail research is continuing at Circle Ranch.

This is a working draft and my thoughts appear below. This version will be replaced with Mark’s final draft so stay tuned.

Posted by Chris Gill

  1. Dear Mark,I suggest adding a paragraph which analyzes everything else and restates the percentages within the subset of natural feed. I think it would be a big addition. Don’t take out anything that is in the paper now, it is the complete set of facts and needs to be in there. Show the percentages within the wild food subset as another way of looking at the data. Makes it a more complete presentation, a more interesting analysis, and also allows the reader to decide for himself if the re-characterization is okay. Otherwise the reader might challenge the presentation. Also, think about finding a third way of looking at the issue.Here is another possible point: feed attracts ants which are quail food. Fed areas have more ants, therefore quail in fed areas can and do eat more ants, but %-ants-in-craw do not necessarily reflect ‘natural’ feed patterns. They are noteworthy anyway and may reflect on the desirability of feeding.Your point about blocks is good, although quail at blocks are more concentrated than quail on the road, but putting blocks by cover can mitigate this. Speed with which the ‘shopping bag’ (craw) can be filled is valid as well. Why not make these points?Mechanical brush removal removes Gambel’s food: their seeds seem to be concentrated from shrubs. They seem to live in brushy margins of draws, so, no brush = no Gambel’s. Killing brush with poisons collaterally takes out the green winter growth from forbs which you have found in scaled & Gambels craws, and with it the forb plants which host insects which our quail are also shown found to have eaten. So, for desert quail, brush control with machines is probably bad and brush control with poisons is probably worse. “Carefully consider” implies none of the foregoing.I do not know if your the data supports these extrapolations, but if so this would be something a land manager can understand and should know. Most of these papers have little usefulness on the ground. It is your paper and your call….Chris Gill

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