Northern Bobwhite: Colinus virginianus
The northern bobwhite or bobwhite quail is a medium-sized, round-bodied bird with a short tail and neck. Plumage is reddish brown with streaking on the sides. Males have a black-and-white stripe above and below the eye with a white throat patch; in females, the stripe and throat patch is tan and buff brown.
Northern bobwhites occur throughout Florida in appropriate habitat. They depend on early successional habitat created by frequent fire in mature upland pine forests. Other habitats include fallow agricultural fields dominated by species such as ragweed and the edges of cultivated grain fields. The best habitat combination is frequently burned upland pine forests interspersed with fallow fields/openings. At one time, this was a common habitat in Florida and abundant quail populations were a by-product. This is not the case today, and quail occur in abundant numbers only on those lands that are actively managed to replicate the land use patterns described above.
The northern bobwhite is one of the signature game species of upland longleaf pine forests. In the spring, visitors to these habitats can expect to hear the males whistle the tell-tale “bobwhite” call. In the fall/winter, it's not uncommon to be surprised by a covey of quail flushing from a brushy area.
Bobwhites feed and roost in coveys of 8 to 25 birds. They forage on the ground for a variety of seeds, insects, fruits and plant parts. Females lay 12 to 16 eggs in a shallow nest built on the ground and hidden beneath vegetation.