Sunday, April 22, 2018

Southern Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project--Earth Day 2018

Every day is Earth Day on a golf course and especially at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  Each year we try to determine an environmental or wildlife habitat need on our course and design a project or program to try and address this need.  For decades the habitat for the Southern Bobwhite Quail has been in constant decline.  This decline is caused by many issues.  As smaller farms, pasturelands, and grass-woodline areas have disappeared in favor of larger open farms and sprawling neighborhoods the habitat for these small game birds is becoming scarce.

Over the years we have drastically reduced the highly maintained turfgrass acreage on our course allowing these areas to return to a natural grassy stage.   These areas are perfect habitat for these small birds as they are small in size and close to water and wooded cover.  The project for this year was designed and carried out by Bill Greene.  Bill, an avid hunter and outdoorsman throughout his life, has a passion for wildlife conservation.  After some detailed research Bill started constructing a brooding chamber to hold the quail chicks until they are large enough to be released.  The chamber is 3'x8' and 12" tall with feed towers and a watering system installed.

Feed and grit will be placed in the feed towers and water placed in the watering barrel.  This supply of food and water will be enough to keep them for the 33 days then need to stay in the brooding chamber before being released into the wild.  1/4" wire mesh was installed in the front half of the brooding chamber with the back half of the chamber solid to allow the chicks an area to get out of any harsh sun, wind, or rain.

A layer of pine shavings are placed in the bottom of the chamber and the chicks released into the chamber.  As you can see in the picture, the chicks, which Bill is holding in his hands, are very small and quite fragile at this young age.  It will take close to a month for them to become strong and big enough to release into their new habitat.

Our plan was to have the chicks out in the brooding chamber long before this time. The unpredictable weather that has kept the south in what seems like a never ending winter has changed those plans.  Since the chicks are so small and fragile and the weather keeps fluctuating so much we have decided to keep the chick in a nesting area at the maintenance building under a heat light and with food and water until the weather regulates.  This will give them some extra time to grow and be ready to be placed in "the wild".

We are blessed to have employees like Bill Greene at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  Not only does he assist in maintaining the golf course grounds everyday but has taken a personal interest in the environmental projects and programs we have in place.  Bill took the time to research the needs of the quail, to speak with his  uncle who raises Bobwhite quail and to secure the donation of the game birds to our project.  If you see Bill out on the course (he will be the tall guy almost always wearing something promoting the Georgia Bulldogs) stop and speak with him and learn about the Bobwhite quail restoration project and say thanks to him for his commitment to the environment, our wildlife habitat programs, and to the golf course.

We are very lucky to be able to come to work on a golf course everyday, and even more for that golf course to be The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  Golf courses provide land that can be used in many ways.  For the golfers (humans) it provides a great place for exercise, stress release, and fellowship with friends and family.  For the wildlife and birds the golf course provides a home, a place where they can move and live and raise their families.

We hope that each of you have a fantastic Earth Day this year and remember that every day should be considered Earth Day.  Please do you part while on the golf course by keeping vehicles out of native grass areas, placing trash and cigarette butts where they are designed to go, and stopping from time to time and simply enjoying the wonderful sights and sounds of the course.

1 comment:

  1. What a great success story! Bobwhites are spectacular birds and to hear of how your species restoration program "dovetails" with your course maintenance regimen is terrific!