After visiting and spotting the Bobwhites wandering around the Egg Harbor Township Arboretum, I decided to 'follow this up' by contacting Dr Chris Williams who is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology; Waterfowl and Upland Gamebird Program at the University of Delaware. Dr William's is also heading up the Bobwhite recovery here in NJ at Chatsworth cranberry bogs and the Haines farm as they are bringing in Bobwhite from Georgia to re-introduce them into Jersey and to hopefully be successful in their overall breeding.
I mentioned these particular Bobwhites and perhaps that this also would be good location to re-introduce this game bird, as this is protected land and seems to be what Bobwhites need in terms of habitat.
He replied back to me the following:
As a follow up I talked to Audubon about your sighting and here is what they said:
"We have gotten calls on this too over the last year. Unfortunately, after we publicized the Pine Barrens project, someone at the US Coast Guard station over that way thought they would “help” by releasing pen raised birds in that area, not to mention releases of quail from the Quail in the Classroom project (once the birds were raised by the kids in an incubator and the school year was over they turned them loose out there) – so unfortunately no one knows what is wild(?) or pen raised now over there. Our feeling and for the most part NJDFW’s feeling its all pen raised. "
So that fits my hunch as well. Pen raised birds will occasionally breed and have offspring (as you have seen). However all the past research indicates they will have 0% survival over the winter and thus will not effectively recolonize an area.
So....given that information....one can assume that these are 'planted' and from where and by whom, is anyone's guess. Since this is a pretty easy place to get to, it will be interesting to monitor these Bobwhites and see if they do survive the winter. Right now, it would appear that there is at least one adult and three young. So will see.... I would be saddened if these Bobwhites didn't survive the winter, as they were just tossed into the wild without a chance. While people have the best intention of helping, it doesn't always work out that way.
Kerching.....that sound plays every time I make money in the market, or ...I find a new bird. Well, it is Sunday and the market is closed but guess what, I found a 'lifer' for me in the Northern Bobwhite.
In fact...four of them. Three young and one adult male. I hope that he is not alone for I didn't see the female. I am not sure how many of these Bobwhite exist in this location (Egg Harbor Township Arboretum), but the habitat looks to be their kind of hangout. I saw where Jan had 'ebirded' this a few days ago and on Saturday, Deb and I went out for a walk there and sure enough, there they were. A covey, just pecking around the grass. I had no camera with me but I know that quails are 'out' at any time of the day, so came back Sunday with my lens. This shot was pretty easy to take and while I couldn't get all three young in the shot, trust me....they are not far away from adult (and I believe this is a male).
Now in the states, this completes my 'quail' inventory. Back west where I come from in Washington State we are very familiar with the California Quail, as they lived in just about everyone's back yard. Down in Arizona in my home near Madera Canyon I frequently see Gambel's Quail as well as the Scaled Quail and once on occasion I have seen the Montezuma Quail. In eastern Oregon the Mountain Quail is abundant. The bobwhite is the only quail found in the east, much like the east only has one species of hummer too (Ruby-thraoted Hummingbird)...why is that?
While living back in Jersey the past few years, one of my target birds has been this Northern Bobwhite. I have traveled up to the Haines Cranberry bogs in search of my elusive bird, but to no avail. I mean,these are tough birds to find and mainly heard. For some reason they are not as willing to venture into Human Sight as some of the quail species who populate western states. Must be that down-home western hospitality and food.
Anyhow...as I find new birds, I make it a habit to uncover new information about the bird I am attempting to find, or ....just found. Over 85% of a population decline has occurred since the 60's so obviously the 60's were not a good thing for them. It might be the baby boomer's last bastion of humanity years as we fight against becoming human chips and human phones, but the birds certainly found these years to be a pivotal point in their population decline.
Amazingly these birds live in coveys and and are very social...and live within that covey for the duration of their lives so given that a female might hatch 12-16 eggs, the covey might be their kin. But the mortality rate is high at anywhere from 60-80%. Not good...so you see why the population is declining as Bobwhites need a habitat of clumped seasonal grasses mixed with annual weeds plus thickets and briar patches and open areas, trees etc... Not too many places around Jersey exist for that. But the good news is that at the Arboretum in EHT, there appears to be just that. A nicely protected area of 220 acres and while not all is in the above mentioned grasses, there is ample space to obviously have a covey. Not sure of how large this covey is, but....slowly I will continue to return to this spot and watch and observe, like all birders do.
Somewhat a small image....but take a look at the areas 'open' and 'closed' during much of our fall 2016. While sad to see so much of Wildlife Drive closed during bird migration, but we will just have to Migrate (as humans) to Hawk Watch in Cape May or Sea watch in Avalon. If birds can do it, so can we.
Sadly, it only took the squirrels a day to breach my defenses. A double assault occurred on my 'black sunflower' feeder this morning. The assault came from the ground and air. The squirrels managed to climb to a far branch and sit on the branch as it succumbed to their weight, leaving just a small leap to the safety of my feeder. I propelled that assault by trimming the tree. The ground assault occurred prior to the air (not good combat tactics), as they crawled up the pipe. Momentarily I also propelled this attack as I got out WD40 and sprayed the pole. For a while, they would attempt to shimmy up the pole, slipping further than they gained. But now...they have figured it out. I think they are using some sort of special pads connected to their feet. Not sure.
I have some 'work' work to accomplish but later today I am going to Home Depot and will buy some 5" PFC pipe. As I recall, I think it was Charlie who said that squirrels can't get a hold on that large diameter pipe.
Well...migratory season is here....I see chickadees dribbling back....the gold finches are strong....I think I saw a tree sparrow the other day but not confirmed and in general, the feeders have livened up a bit.
Which means.....my nemesis is back as well. The squirrels, while never truly disappearing for the summer, were more hidden from view-- as my feeders were not stocked with sunflower seeds and the like. But now since I feel the nip in the air, the feeders are stocked, the thistle is flying out like ice cream sundaes on the boardwalk, and the suet is up (I bought a five pack at Ace Hardware and envision going through many more 6 packs, or ....no, these are five packs, the beer is the six-pack) and the sunflower seeds have caught the eye and claws, and jumping skills and curiosity of the squirrels once more. So, .....what do I do, oh what do I do.
I built 'that'...AKA 'above photo"..... I went to Ace Hardware and got a pole, stuck a board on top, and screwed in my sunflower feeder. I 'attempted' to dig a hole in the rock, / soil....and managed to put it in the ground about 6 inches. Within minutes the squirrels were on the grass, as sharks are to a life raft. They circled my feeding pole, probing it....testing it, nudging it. An hour later the squirrels tipped it over. Great Squirrel = 1....Me = 0 (Battle of the Fall latest score).
I attempted to dig deeper into the soil so the pole was in further, but the soil is a composite of tiny pebbles and sand, almost impossible to dig. I was in the process of 'giving up' when Deb mentioned to me that I should just use one of the existing holes out there. You know...the mole holes. Let them do the work for me. So I selected one nice one, about the size of my pipe and started inspecting it. But the hole appeared to go sideways' as it connected to this underground maze of 'other holes' as they popped up, somewhat hidden within the grass. Upon closer inspection and after I placed my weeder tool inside the hole, I found that the weeder just about became lost as there must be levels or floors our moles have created, deep under ground.
So....with hardly any effort, I have now hammered in my feeder pole so that a solid 1 to 1/1/2 feet is ground-bound. Nice and sturdy.
As I write this now and sit upon my own meal......there are no circling squirrels. I think they have called it a day; checked out...off the clock. Tomorrow, will bring another battle, our fall battle.