2016 August Roadside Quail Survey Summary

2016 August Roadside Quail Survey Summary

Kyle Johnson, Quail Habitat Biologist

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

 

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has conducted annual roadside surveys in August and October since 1990 to index quail populations across Oklahoma. The survey provides an index of annual population fluctuations. Observers report the number of quail seen to provide an index of quail abundance (number of quail seen per 20 mile route) and reproductive success. Currently, ODWC employees run 84, 20-mile routes in all counties except Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties. Larger counties including Beaver, Ellis, Le Flore, McCurtain, Osage, Pittsburg, Pushmataha and Roger Mills Counties have two routes.

The 2016 August roadside quail survey shows the statewide quail index is up 60.4% from the 26 year average (Table 1). The statewide index is up 50.0% from the 2015 August survey and up 144.8% from the 2014 August survey. The average number of quail seen per route increased in five of six regions (Northwest, Northeast, Southcentral, Southeast, and Southwest) compared to 2015, but the Northcentral region declined 20.8%. Of the birds seen in 2016, 81.7% were reported as either ¾ grown or full grown.

Oklahoma’s three consecutive years of favorable nesting season weather have helped increase quail numbers throughout the majority of the state. Mild winters combined with cooler than average nesting season temperatures and ample rainfall are critical for the production of quail and other ground nesting birds. Although Oklahoma experienced more days of triple digit temperatures and less rainfall than 2015, the 2016 nesting season weather was still very favorable for quail production. In addition, the high carryover of birds from the excellent quail production year of 2015 played a large role in the increase in quail numbers across the state.

Oklahoma’s only region (Northcentral) which saw a decrease in quail numbers is likely a result of well below average rainfall (24% below average) during the month of June within those counties. The majority (70%) of chicks that were observed within the Northcentral region were half-grown or smaller, suggesting that early-season nesting was less favorable than nesting attempts during July and early August. However, it appears the habitat and weather conditions were favorable for early nesting attempts throughout the majority of the state, as 72.2% of all chicks observed were at least ¾ grown. The Southwest part of Oklahoma saw the largest increase from August 2015 to August 2016.

The October Roadside Quail Survey will provide important information in determining any second or third nesting attempts and additional clarity about this falls population and season outlook.
The Quail Season Outlook is posted the last week of October.

Previous 26 year Average

2015

Average

2016

Average

Statewide

5.8

6.2

9.3

Northeast

3.2

2.0

2.1

Northcentral

3.3

6.7

5.3

Northwest

8.2

13.6

17.6

Southeast

4.5

1.5

2.3

Southcentral

2.1

0.1

0.5

Southwest

14.6

13.1

29.1

Table 1. Average number of quail seen per 20 miles during the August Quail Roadside Survey.

 

Figure 1.  Regional Boundaries for the Quail Roadside Survey