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Quail

birds, bob-white, ground, bird, game, sport, white, sportsman, close and sometimes

QUAIL, one of several partridges (q.v.); in the eastern United States the bob-white (Colinas virginianus) and on the Pacific Coast partridges of other genera. The eastern bob white requires no description beyond a state ment of the differences between the sexes. Be sides being larger, the male has the superciliary line and throat pure white, these parts in the female being buff and without black borders and she also has the colors generally more blended. The bob-white is widely distributed throughout the eastern. United States; on the Atlantic Coast it barely enters Maine, farther west it is found northward in New York, On tario and Minnesota; southward it is abundant in the Gulf and South Atlantic States and westward reaches to the elevated central plains from South Dakota to Texas. Farther west ward at many points in this country, in Jamaica and other West Indian islands this species has been very successfully introduced, but similar attempts in Europe seem to have failed. The Florida and Texan birds present extremes of variation recognized as sub-species and a re lated species (C. ridgwayi) occurs in Arizona. Although jn New England and elsewhere called quail and in the Middle and Southern States very generally •partridge,I) neither of these names is, properly speaking, correct. The of the farmer's boy is a far more char acteristic and appropriate name. Like related species it is gregarious, but the coveys consist of members of one family—a pair of old birds and their numerous progeny of one or two broods — which remain in company until the next pairing season. They live where thickets, woodland borders or fence rows offer suitable cover. Throughout most of the year they feed ;upon berries, seeds and mast and frequent grain-fields after harvest to glean the fallen seeds. Occasionally they attack fields of buck wheat, of which they are very fond, but the slight damage thus done is repaid manyfold in the destruction of grasshoppers • and other insects in the late summer and autumn. Most of their life is spent on the grpund, on which they scratch like hens. When whistling or sometimes when alarmed they will perch upon trees or fences, but usually run to a cover, where they remain perfectly motionless or spring suddenly into the air with a loud whirr and fly swiftly straight away to a thicket. At night they commonly huddle together in a close bunch with heads outward in the concealment of a bush, but may occasionally roost on trees. The call is a clear loud whistle of two or three notes, variously interpreted as eah, bob-white," °buckwheat" and "no buckwheat)) or "more wet" and °no more wet." Being non-migratory, the bob-white is fre quently exposed to privation during the winter. During a heavy snow-storm the members of a covey will often huddle together to keep warm and allow themselves to become completely cov ered and should a crust form on the surface many will sometimes perish miserably. In April and May they construct simple nests of coarse grass stems, usually arched over at the top, in a depression on the ground under the shelter of a bush or tuft of grass. The many eggs

are pure white and top-shaped and arranged with the pointed ends downward. The young run immediately after hatching and are won derfully interesting and pretty creatures with a marvelous skill for concealing themselves when alarmed. Sometimes a second brood is raised in August: When this is the case the male . takes sole charge of the first until the, second is hatched, when both parents join the com bined broods; thus are formed the largest coveys.

. The bob-white combines all of those quali ties which a sportsman seeks in an ideal game bird and it is, without question, the most sought . and most generally appreciated by gunners of any game bird in this country. Every condition unites to make the. sport exhilarating and healthful, to test the skill of the sportsman and to please his appetite at the close of his labors. In most States this perfect game bird is now rigidly protected by laws prohibiting snaring, netting and trapping, by the enactment of a close season covering the breeding period and continuing until the young birds are strong of wing, or by other measures designed to meet local conditions or abuses. In several States at present the shooting of quail is prohibited for five or more years. Although the bird is so prolific it has numerous natural enemies, espe cially hawks, weasels, skunks, cats, etc., which check its increase. When to this natural loss is added the enormous number annually sacri ficed to the deservedly popular sport of quail shooting, the necessity of legal protection be comes manifest. The nature and method of the sport differs so much with the 'varied ac tions of the birds due to season, locality, char acter of ground, etc., and to the local and personal idiosyncrasies of gunners, that the reader must be referred to some of the nu merous sporting books for details. The gen eral method is to hunt singly or in couples, with one or two dogs, which quarter the ground under the guidance of signs and whistled sig nals from the sportsman. When the birds flush they spring up suddenly and immediately at tain full speed, which keeps the gunners al ways on the qui wive, Either pointers or setters may be used according to the character of the ground and the personal preference of the sportsman. By many the Llewellyn setter is considered to be the most perfect dog for rapid quartering of the ground and general adaptation to this class of sport. As to guns, tastes differ, but a hammerless arm of moderate weight, long range and 12 or 14 bore has the preference of experts.

These birds have been successfully bred in captivity, as is explained in the article GAME BREEDING.

Consult hooks mentioned under Bums and publications of the United States Biological Survey, especially Bulletin 21, Judd, white and Other Quails . . . in their Economic Relations' (Washington 1905).