Keeping an Eye on Quail

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Indiana has joined a nationwide effort to monitor Northern bobwhite quail and other grassland birds that use similar habitat to determine how they respond to changes in habitat.

The effort is called the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). NBCI is a strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations — all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee — to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail to levels comparable to 1980.

The state is joining NBCI as it is also gearing up to restore more grassland habitat.

This year, the state also launched Grasslands for Gamebirds & Songbirds (GGS), a private-lands conservation program that offers financial assistance and technical advice for grassland development.

Small-game biologist Matt Broadway of DNR Fish & Wildlife serves as the Indiana NBCI coordinator.

“Our NBCI involvement kind of piggybacks on GGS,” Broadway said.

So, as more grassland habitat is being developed, Broadway and other biologists will study those areas to see how quail and other grassland birds respond. Because the program will last 10 years, biologists will also study the effects of maturing habitats on birds and management efforts to keep the habitat right.

NBCI will focus on focal regions that will include private land as well as portions Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area.

“We want to determine whether we are having an effect,” Broadway said.