Drought Helps Missouri Quail Population

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MONTIEAU - While the drought dried up farm land, damaged crops, and killed animals one species flourished. Quail numbers are expected to increase with the summer's drought conditions.

Fields with thinned grasses and cracked ground became a safe haven for quail. The dry vegetation and weather provided a solution for the problems cool wet weather brings quail. Quail chicks' lives are fragile and extremely vulnerable the first few weeks of their lives. The inability to regulate body temperature makes even a small drop of water fatal for young quail. However, the hot and dry weather gave chicks a more stable and less dangerous environment to live in.

"A fluctuation of 5 degrees either way can kill these chicks," bird farm owner Tom Peak said.

Dried vegetation also played a role. This summer tall grasses dried, broke, and protected as they provided a canopy of cover for quails and their tiny young. To the untrained eye the dried shrubbery looked like a pest to some farmers. However grasses like ragweed and lespedeza provide a great food source for quail to survive on in the summer.

Though the numbers are still being crunched, conservationists are expecting a rise in the Missouri quail population. In the last four summers quail numbers have decreased due to the wetness, so this summer may provide an upward trend to reverse the declining numbers. With quail season beginning November 1, experts expect a few more birds in the sky.