Saturday, May 5, 2018

Gentleman Bob and the Decline of the South

audubon quail

Re-post 2015

 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. Gentleman Bob is a beautiful creature. “The small farms with their hedgerows and weedy edges, where people, crops, and quail thrived have gone missing.” The same thing here in Iowa. Gone are the family farms of 160 to 240 acres. The farm where they raised a few hogs and cows. Some to butcher for the freezer, others to sell to make it through the winter. Most also had chickens. Which some went to the freezer, others to the butcher shop, and always eggs. Now where 5-8 families lived, worked, and grew. All gone now, just thousands of acres in corn or soy beans. Farmed by a business. No hogs, no cows, no chickens, and no more family farms. They simply do not exist. One of the big myths left, Family Farms.


    1. Sad and much the same here. I haven't heard a Bobwhite since I came back here last July.

  2. About 12 to 15 years back there was a virus that spread though the Quail population in the the South. It knocked out 80% of the population in GA. It is starting to come back but it is still below the levels in the 70's and 80's.