By Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Lone Star Outdoor News
Game cameras are pretty common in the world of deer management tools, but they can also be great for quail.
Game camera virtues in quail management include nest surveillance, monitoring relative abundance of predators, feeder and or water visitation rates, and occupancy.
Gone are the days when the cameras were expensive and actually held film. Now they can often be picked up for around $100 and have easy-to-use SD cards that can hold a plethora of images.
In July and August, the cameras can give managers an idea of brood size if they are set up near a watering hole or feeders. Cameras can also give an indication of how much of the feed is actually going to quail. One study showed a 5-15 percent visitation rate by quail to feeders.
Camera information has been helpful in research on predators, which can also benefit managers. For example, researchers found that road runners don’t really prey on quail chicks once the chicks are past 5 weeks old.
If predators are a concern, setting one up near a quail feeder or a nesting site can shed light on the number of predators in the area and whether they need to be managed to increase the chance of quail survival.
However, some species such as roadrunners and raccoons are thought to be attracted to new and novel things, whereas some species such as coyotes are wary of new things. Managers would need to take that into account when studying predators, said Bradley Kubecka, a research assistant at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch working on his master’s degree at Texas A&M Kingsville.
Kubecka added that cameras are useful in gathering habitat information. They can determine if improved habitat attracted birds. For example, clearing out a thicket of mesquite could be helpful cover for quail. Setting up a camera can answer those questions, Kubecka said. They can also be used for observing brood ecology.
Photos also are good for collecting data such as female:male and poult:hen ratios. Data can provide information on the composition and productivity of the population and changes that occur on an annual basis.