View & Print Coupons
  • |
  • |
Please insert a friend's information that you would like send an email to.
Friend's Email Address:  
Friend's Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Name:
Special Message:

Attracting Quail and Pheasants


For the last century, the bobwhite quail and ring-necked pheasant have been favorites of hunters and birdwatchers near farmland and other agricultural areas. Quail numbers have dwindled over the past 50 years, but by managing land to improve quail habitat, private landowners can do much to boost their populations. Like quail, pheasant populations have dwindled in some areas, but they also can thrive with specific management practices. It only takes a bit of consideration for their habitat needs to make your land a more suitable home for these popular game birds.

Increasing quail populations

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when managing your land to increase quail populations is that they tend to stay close to the ground, traveling on foot. Naturally then, quails prefer ground that they can move freely on. The surface at ground level should have a minimum of dead leaves, twigs and dense vegetation.

Attract quail and pheasant to your backyardAt the same time, the ground shouldn't be completely bare. Like most game birds, quail feel safer from predators under or near vegetative cover. Quail also need vegetation to provide food and places to nest and raise their brood.

Landowners should look to maintain a diverse patchwork of areas of mostly native vegetation, including: areas of bunch grasses; vegetation patches consisting of annual weeds or agricultural crops; and open areas such as idle, brushy cropland or cleared forest.

According to experts at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), quail primarily eat seeds and insects from native vegetation, especially annuals growing in fallow fields or cleared forest. Supplemental food plots, however, may also be useful. Generally, plant supplemental crops in strips at approximately one-half the rate recommended for agricultural production to allow quail to move easily in the crop.

Quail often use areas of bunch grasses for nesting. Quail construct nests in shallow depressions on the ground with leaves or pine needles in the cover that vegetation clumps provide. Quail should be able to walk easily among clumps of vegetation in these areas, and good nesting lands should include a variety of vegetation besides grasses, including some brambles and bushes.

For quail raising young chicks (brooding), the ideal habitat includes vegetative cover that produces many insects for chicks to feed on. Row crops or recently disked areas that have been left fallow to the weeds are ideal for brooding quail.

Quail most often escape predators by running to cover and freezing, relying on their motionlessness and camouflage to escape notice. Preserving some thick cover, such as honeysuckle, blackberry or timber should be another management strategy to consider.

Perhaps the best rule of thumb is that quail prefer low-maintenance land, which can be a benefit for busy landowners. Avoid mowing roadsides and old fields or clearing out brush piles and old fencerows. Occasional disking and controlled burns, however, are valuable for reducing vegetation and allowing new growth in cleared areas.

Quail are "edge dwellers," lingering near the borders between fields and thicker cover. Try allowing natural brush to grow in a fallow area near the edges of fields, cutting trees to allow for some brush growth between fields and forests or planting rows of shrubby vegetation. According to University of Florida wildlife experts, quail can also thrive in or near brushy, patchy livestock pastures that are lightly, rotationally grazed.

A group, or covey, of quail typically tends to roam in a linear fashion over a quarter mile along the edges of fields, forests, ditches and old fencerows. Landowners with small holdings may want to consider cooperating with neighbors to manage a large range of suitable quail habitat.

Making your land pheasant friendly

Although pheasants are more concentrated in the northern and central U.S., many of the land management practices that encourage quail are the same that attract pheasants. Like quail, pheasants will tend to avoid intensively managed cropland, pastures consisting solely of fescue grasses and mowed areas in favor of patches of diverse, native vegetation and overgrown areas that provide cover. Also, like quail, pheasants tend to dwell near the edges of fields or other cleared areas.

Pheasants need thick escape cover and cover from wind and snow. They prefer to nest in areas of undisturbed dense grasses or crop stubble that provide overhead cover, but vegetation should not be so dense as to prevent pheasants from moving about freely.

Young pheasants feed primarily on insects, while adults feed on waste from agricultural crops, weed seeds, berries, acorns, snails and insects. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, adult pheasants tend to spend most of the winter in heavier cover and will move into grassy or overgrown fallow areas near crop fields in the spring.

According to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, preferred habitats for quail include:

  • Corn, sorghum, oats, wheat and barley stubble
  • Unmowed hay
  • Areas of mixed weeds and native grasses or shrubs
  • Grassy roadside ditches and field drainage channels
  • Dense vegetation growing along overgrown fencerows, windbreaks, woodlots and abandoned grassy farmsteads
  • Field corners

Remember, recommendations for attracting pheasant and quail may vary by region. Consult your local office of wildlife management if you need help adapting a plan to your land.


Related Products

GridList

Southern States Sporting Bird Flight Developer (BMD) Medicated 50 lb
COMPARE
Check local store for pricing
Southern States Sporting Bird Flight Developer (BMD) Medicated 50 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Southern States Fall Wildlife Seed Mix 50 lb
COMPARE
$39.99
Southern States Fall Wildlife Seed Mix 50 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Southern States Cracked Corn 10 lb
COMPARE
$4.99
Southern States Cracked Corn 10 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Wild Delight Cardinal Bird Food 7 lb
COMPARE
$12.99
Wild Delight Cardinal Bird Food 7 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Wild Delight Gourmet Bird Food 8 lb
COMPARE
$10.99
Wild Delight Gourmet Bird Food 8 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Gran-I-Grit Starter Grit 50 lb
COMPARE
$9.99
Gran-I-Grit Starter Grit 50 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Wild Delight Cardinal Bird Food 15 lb
COMPARE
$22.99
Wild Delight Cardinal Bird Food 15 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability
Wild Delight Songbird Bird Food 20 lb
COMPARE
$27.99
Wild Delight Songbird Bird Food 20 lb
Check Store Availability
Check Store Availability


Product availability and pricing may vary by location.
These products may be purchased at your local store.
Images are representative only. Color and size may vary.
Your Current Store:

You will see pricing and specials based on this store.