Georgia’s state bird is the Bobwhite Quail. This bird is a medium-sized bird with a rounded body, small head, short tail, and rounded wings.
Georgia is a southeastern U.S. state whose terrain consists of mountains, farmland, and coastal beaches. The capital of the state is Atlanta. It’s a relatively large state with a population of 10.8 million people and a 59,425 sq mile size.
These birds are known for their intricately patterned plumage. You’ll see a variety of colors in their feathers, like reddish-brown, brown, black, and yellowy-brown.
The Bobwhite Quail became a state bird of Georgia on March 20, 1970. It was chosen as the official state game bird by a Joint Resolution of the Georgia General Assembly.
Georgia chose the Bobwhite Quail as its state bird because it holds a special place in its wildlife heritage and outdoor culture.
Georgia has been known as a leading quail-hunting destination for over 100 years. However, their quail population has declined by more than 85% since the 1960s.
This extreme decline is due mainly to the loss of quality habitats like weeds, native grasses, shrubs, and briars. Restoring these habitats will benefit not only quail but other wildlife species, like rabbits, songbirds, deer, and wild turkey, just to name a few. It will also reduce soil erosion, enhance local economies by stimulating wildlife viewing and quail hunting, and improve water quality.
In response to the decline in population numbers, Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources worked with General Assembly members and supporters to develop and fund the BQI. Also known as the Bobwhite Quail Initiative. This initiative is an effort to restore habitats for bobwhites and other early related wildlife species.
Facts about The Bobwhite Quail
- The Bobwhite Quail is one of the most thoroughly studied bird species on earth. This is because of the birds’ history of being a game bird. Scientists have researched a variety of impacts on captive and wild bobwhite quails. Some examples of human activities that have been studied are prescribed burns and pesticide application.
- Interestingly, Bobwhite Quails are divided into 22 subspecies. Some of these subspecies were previously considered to be separate species. Some subspecies include the Black-headed Bobwhite, the Rufous-bellied Bobwhite, and the Masked Bobwhite. All of the females of these species look very similar, but the males vary greatly.
- More than 700 fossils represent the bobwhite genus. Some of these fossils are at least 2.5 million years old and have been found in a wide variety of places like the Yucatan Peninsula, Florida, and Arizona.
- When it comes to protecting their nests from predators, bobwhite quails have a nifty way of keeping their nests safe. The parents will do their best to try and lure a predator away by faking an injury. They’ve been observed leaning heavily to one side and sticking out their wing. Predators are attracted to the seemingly helpless bird and quickly move away from the nest and towards the “injured” parent. As soon as the bobwhite quail is sure the predator is far away enough from the nest, it will take flight and land in a safe place to avoid the predator.
The Bobwhite Quail is a medium-sized bird with a rounded body, small head, short tail, and rounded wings.
They have intricately patterned plumage as well. You’ll see a variety of colors in their feathers, like reddish-brown, brown, black, and yellowy-brown.
There are some regional differences with the Bobwhite Quail. Females look similar across their range, but male Bobwhite Quails can vary greatly.
Male Bobwhites in the Southeast have a more sizeable black patch on the breast and throat than other birds in the range. Bobwhite Quails in Texan and the Great Plains have more gray on their backs.
Eastern Bobwhites have more reddish-brown across the breast. “Masked” Bobwhites, an endangered and secluded Southwestern population, have an almost all-black head and reddish-brown on the breast.
There are also incredibly rare rufous adults that are nearly a completely reddish-brown color.
Both male and female Bobwhite Quails give a loud whistle that increases in pitch; the song is primarily used by males looking for a mate during the breeding season.
Additionally, both males and females use soft contact calls and sharp whistles to keep in touch with each other while foraging and moving around.
Adults are also known to point out food to their chicks with a soft tu-tu-tu sound.
Bobwhite Quails are very social creatures. You can find them in groups of 3 – 20 birds. They feed early in the morning and late in the afternoon; these groups will roost together on the ground or in vegetation at night.
The group will be packed closely together and face outward in a circle with their tails pointing towards the center. It’s theorized that this conserves heat and helps them stay alert.
They’ll coexist peacefully for most of the year, but when breeding season comes around, the male bobwhites will fight to attract mates. Both sexes will perform displays for courtship.
It was initially thought that these birds were monogamous, but this is not the case. Males have been known to raise broods with multiple females, and females have been known to raise families with numerous males.
Bobwhite Quails have also sometimes been observed mixing their eggs with eggs from free-range domestic chickens and Ring-necked Pheasants.