Land Stewardship
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Land Stewardship

Supplemental Water for Quail

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In most situations quail do not need access to free standing water. Preformed water found in forbs, insects, and seeds are usually sufficient to provide quail with the water requirements they need to survive and reproduce (Guthery et al). However, supplemental water may become important for quail in extremely xeric environments (deserts) or during times of extreme drought conditions (Guthery et al). It was found in a 1952 study in Nevada that Gambel’s quail require drinking water in situations where the quail’s diet lacks succulent food or the ambient temperature is near to or greater than the quail’s internal body temperature (Gullion et al). It is likely that this holds true for all quail species.

There are a few ways to give quail on your land access to more water if you believe that conditions warrant it. One easy fix is to allow water from livestock troughs to overflow onto the ground. The resulting moist area can provide water to quail either through standing water that may pool in that area or by increasing the abundance of preformed water sources, i.e. forbs and insects. This can be seen in figure A, which shows a water trough with water overflowing off the left side and creating a small area of lush vegetation. This photograph also shows a ramp on the side of the trough to allow quail to drink directly from the trough. Another option available to the land owner is to install watering devices such as the small game guzzler in figure B. “Harvesting Rainwater for Wildlife” is a publication by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension that provides instructions for constructing a wide variety of rainwater catchment devices for providing water to wildlife species. Examples of some of the watering devices diagramed in “Harvesting Rainwater for Wildlife” are shown is figure C. A third option is to increase the available preformed water sources through the construction of spreader dams. These short earthen dams are used to cause flowing water on dirt roads and other gently sloping areas to slow down and soak into the ground, reducing erosion and capturing water that would otherwise have been lost. The resulting moist areas create small, lush green oases that provide food, cover, and preformed water to quail. Follow this link to watch a video further describing how to build these quail oases.

Works Cited

  1. Gullion, G. W., and A. M. Gullion. 1964. Water economy of gambel quail. The Condor. 66:32–40
  2. Guthery, F. S., and N. E. Koerth. 1992. Substandard water intake and inhibition of bobwhite reproduction during drought. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 56:760–768
  3. Texas AgriLife Extension Service. 2008. Harvesting rainwater for wildlife. B-6182



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Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute

Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute


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