Land Stewardship
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Land Stewardship

How to Use the Bobwhite Management Applications

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension continually strives to develop new educational content which helps Texans better manage their land for wildlife, resulting in the creation of a suite of smartphone applications for landowners. These apps provide management tips for several species of interest in Texas including wild pigs, white-tailed deer, and quail. Although the apps are fairly intuitive to use, this article will provide a step-by-step example for how to use both the Northern Bobwhite Management Calendar and the Northern Bobwhite Habitat Evaluation apps, which are now free in both the iTunes and Google Play app stores, to better manage your land for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus).

Northern Bobwhite Management Calendar

When you open the Northern Bobwhite Management Calendar, the home screen displays a grid of twelve squares, with each labeled as a month of the year. At the bottom of the page are two tabs labelled “Introduction” and “Practices.” Be sure to take a look at the Introduction first; it provides background information about the proper use of the app and includes links to other resources. The Practices page is a convenient reference list for all the habitat management techniques included in the app.

Figure 1. The management calendar allows you to select a month of the year and view which management practices should be employed during that month.

To discover the best practices to use in a particular month, simply select the corresponding square. After you have chosen a month, a list of management suggestions will appear on the next screen for you to scroll through and interact with. For example, when you select the month of July, recommendations include brush sculpting, camera trapping, habitat evaluations, shredding, supplemental water, and grazing management. Each of these practices has their own page which prominently displays the months in which the practice should be implemented, step-by-step instructions on how to carry them out, and links to additional helpful resources. The first suggestion in July, brush sculpting, comes with a set of instructions on how to choose suitable brush for half-cutting to enhance wildlife habitat (Figure 2). As you browse the other months, you will see that suggested practices change based on what quail are doing at different times of the year, as well as how rangeland is likely to respond.

Figure 2. The individual pages for each management practice provide you with preferred implementation months, step-by-step instructions, and a list of additional resources.

Please note that, while the app provides a great overview of the practices that are used to create bobwhite habitat, a dedicated management plan may require more personalization. Every property is different and will respond to strategies in different ways, and this should be taken into account before making significant management changes. Do not hesitate to contact a local natural resources professional if necessary.

The Management Calendar also recommends conducting “habitat evaluations” during the month of July — a practice that helps you discover which aspects of your quail habitat require improvement. Conducting habitat evaluations can be challenging, but we happen to have an app to assist with that, too.

Northern Bobwhite Habitat Evaluation

The Northern Bobwhite Habitat Evaluation app is an easy-to-use tool that helps you determine the quality of your habitat for quail use. An introductory home page discusses the role that habitat plays in supporting quail populations and describes the various cover types that are essential to quail. To use the app, you must travel to the spot on your property you wish to evaluate and visualize a one-acre plot (about the size of a football field) which will be your evaluation area. You should expect to repeat this process multiple times across your property to represent all the habitat types that are present there — try not to cherry-pick spots! Below are screenshots of the pages that follow, filled with example answers (Figures 3 and 4). You will be asked to estimate the percentage of suitable bunchgrass nesting clumps, effective cover, and proximity to water sources. Be sure to carefully read the instructions for each cover type and refer to the pictures (tap the black “i” button in the upper right corner) to learn what you should be looking for. Additionally, when you get to the Food section, you will be asked to search for quail-friendly food plants and provide scores based on both their diversity and distribution. The “Plant Species List” button (lower left corner) provides plenty of examples, and the “i” button here walks you step-by-step through the process of determining food availability.

Figure 3. To begin, visualize a one-acre plot for each habitat type you wish to evaluate.
Figure 4. Study your acre-plot closely as you answer each question to the best of your knowledge.

After completing the survey, you will be provided with an evaluation score reflecting how your property is rated as quail habitat. In areas that might need improvement, simply touch “see recommendations” for a thorough list of ways to improve your habitat in areas that might be lacking. For example, recommendations on improving nesting cover include reducing grazing pressure in areas where cover is lacking, or chemically or mechanically removing brush in areas with cover that is too dense. For these and other management suggestions, you can refer back to the Northern Bobwhite Management Calendar for more details and resources on how (and when) to implement them on your land. Note that the app will not save your habitat evaluation score; if you wish to keep a record of it, you should write it down before closing the application.

Figure 5. The final page of your evaluation will provide a habitat rating, along with recommendations on how to improve.

Both the Management Calendar and Habitat Evaluation App are designed to streamline and simplify the process of quail habitat management by providing a central location for information and resources. Whether or not you are a landowner, these apps are an excellent learning tool for anyone who wants to further their knowledge of quail and the best ways to create quality habitat for wildlife.

Written by Abigail Holmes, Texas A&M NRI Extension Associate

Edited by Amanda Gobeli, Texas A&M NRI Extension Associate

Originally posted at wild-wonderings.blogspot.com.

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At the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, our work improves the conservation and management of natural resources through applied research. nri.tamu.edu