Northern Exposure

June 27 field day at Bradford looks at managing bobwhite quail habitat

A June 27 field day at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center will look at how farmers, landowners and wildlife enthusiasts can manage habitat for northern bobwhite quail.

The northern bobwhite, a small upland game bird, was once abundant in Missouri, but intensive farming and other changes in land use eliminated much of its habitat. In the Midwest, bobwhite populations have fallen sharply since the 1970s.

At Bradford, however, bobwhites are on the rise. Since 2003, the MU research farm has served as a laboratory for practices that integrate wildlife habitat into modern farming operations.

“Farmers who want to help quail thrive don’t have to sacrifice productivity,” said Bob Pierce, MU Extension state fisheries and wildlife specialist. “These habitats can be cost-effectively integrated into modern farming methods.”

The Bobwhite Quail Management in Modern Agriculture Field Day, a free event, runs from 8 a.m. to noon and will feature wagon tours demonstrating habitat-management techniques put in place at Bradford:

  • The Farm and Habitat Management tour will discuss controlled field burning, strip disking and using sprayers to control invasive plants.
  • Managing Field Edges for Wildlife will look at edge feathering, hinge cutting, forest thinning, brush management and determining field size to promote wildlife.
  • Crop Field Management details native plantings and use of cover crop refuges for pollinators and wildlife, and highlights various farm agency programs that provide cost-share incentives.
  • Conservation Habitat Management Techniques will teach landowners how to gauge quail populations through whistle counts and show how they can use a habitat plan to increase populations of bobwhites and other wildlife.
  • An indoor session, Quail 101, will examine the basics of creating the right mix of early successional plant communities to provide quail with food and cover.

Lunch will be provided after the tours and will feature a demonstration on preparing Asian carp, an invasive fish that is displacing native species in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. MU researchers are looking at ways to create demand for Asian carp in restaurants and supermarkets to encourage more anglers to harvest them.

MU Bradford Research Center is about six miles east of Columbia at 4968 Rangeline Road. For directions and other information, go to or call 573-884-7945.

The field day is sponsored by MU Extension; the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; the Missouri Department of Conservation; the Missouri Soybean Association; and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

See more information on bobwhite quail management from MU Extension, including downloadable guides and an award-winning DVD on habitat appraisal.