Helping Quail Handle the Weather
Much like pheasants, quail struggle with freezing rain, deep snows, cold and wet springs (during nesting and brood rearing season). Certainly predators are a cause of high mortality rates for both quail and pheasants. But, weather is equally a cause. Quail are very sensitive and handle deep snows even worse than pheasants do. This fact is one reason that the bobwhite quail may never see the huge comeback seen by the wild turkey. However, with some effort, we believe that these birds can make a comeback through much of their original Minnesota range.
A good bramble or thicket with a roof of shrub branches and vine structure will minimize some of the impact of freezing rain. Also, the edge feathering method should include a few larger trees (boxelder or basswood) that can help produce a canopy for protection. Make sure to keep the stump rather high off the ground and leave the tree partly attached to the tall stump so you’re creating somewhat of a lean-to.
Cold and Wet Springs
Unfortunately, this is one area where there is little you can do other than to make sure you have a solid covey headquarters and plenty of roosting area. Nests will be ruined. There’s no getting around that. Just remember that quail will begin building a new nest just as soon as they can and will continue to try through August.
Use your snowmobile or snowplow to pack down snow or plow roads for the quail, pheasants and deer to use. Get those roads near to your covey headquarters, brambles and covey headquarters. If the snow is deeper than 15 inches, quail will really suffer and struggle to find and access food. You may consider supplemental feeding (we can help with plans) and any feeders should have all snow plowed away or very much packed down in a radius of 10-15 feet around your feeders. This practice of road/path-making goes a long way to help deer, pheasants, quail and many other animals.
Even a four-wheeler can be used to pack down some snow within your food plots, making sure some seeds land on the packed snow and birds can easily access.
Flying burns energy and calories, which are at a premium during the winter months. Help them access the food by flying as little as possible.