Also called the Virginia Quail or Bobwhite Quail, the Northern Bobwhite is a member of the group commonly referred to as the New World quails, Odontophoridae. Native to the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, the 22 subspecies of the Northern Bobwhite are also common game birds. In Louisiana, bobwhite quail populations have declined about 75% since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey (2010). This is primarily attributed to an increase in habitat loss occurring during the 1970s and ’80s, but their populations have begun to stabilize with conservation efforts.
The Northern Bobwhite is a moderately-sized quail, the smallest galliform native to Eastern North America. The birds are a chunky, round shape, with an overall rufous plumage spotted by highlights of gray on the back and white on the stomach. The males have a white throat and a black chin strap, females are duller colored overall without a chin strap. Bobwhites eat mainly plants and small pest bugs. The birds are named for their distinct whistle, a clear “bob-WHITE” or “bob-bob-WHITE” that rises in pitch a full octave from beginning to end.