Friday, February 13, 2015

Gentleman Bob and the Decline of the South

 audubon quail

Coal miners have their canaries; we have colinus virginiánus, the bobwhite quail. Like the canary that goes silent as the oxygen levels in a mine drop, so too has the quail gone silent in large swaths of the South.

The decline of Gentleman Bob has been attributed to any number of factors. Wildlife biologists blame the loss and destruction of favorable habitat. Some point to diseases and parasites as the true ravagers of the quail. Myself, I lay the blame at a number of doors. The small farms with their hedgerows and weedy edges, where people, crops, and quail thrived have gone missing. As these habitats began to disappear, wildlife agencies began a curious love affair with such varmints as hawks, coyotes and wolves.

The decline of trapping among the younger generation after the 1960s may have been celebrated heartily in many a fox den, PETA den, and raccoon nest, but not so much by Gentleman Bob who now had more worries to add to his list. Loss of habitat, the ever expanding suburban savannah and its 1” putting green lawns, and game laws that favored predators over prey have left Gentlemen Bob in a bad way.


  1. Same thing with pheasants here. Not many hay fields any more. Fence rows all but extinct.
    My dad always blamed it on dry fertilizer. I dont know if pheasants have gizzards, but they do peck at little pebbles.
    I have never seen a wild one.
    Our county was practically world famous. Clark Gable and pals used to hunt here.
    Too bad.

    1. Certainly is and I always loved the call of the Bobwhite.

  2. I think the last time I heard a bobwhite call out, I was in my late teens, early twenties.

    1. Wow. I'd hear one every now and then at Dixieland 2002-2005.

  3. Anecdotal evidence: Farmers now have bushhogs and keep their fallow land and
    fence rows clean as Blackdog said. Also, when I was a boy there were lots of
    quail and rabbits but very few Foxes and NO Coyotes. Now there are lot's of coyotes and Fox both of which eat quail eggs and baby quail from their nests on the ground. CH