What do bobwhite quail and pollinators have to do with each other? Quite a bit, according to Bob Pierce, state fisheries and wildlife specialist for MU Extension.
“Bobwhite quail require early-successional plant communities – that means forbs and legumes – or weedy vegetation – for food and cover,” Pierce said.
The flowers of these native plants produce nectar that attracts pollinating insects, including certain bees, wasps, butterflies and moths. Others may serve as host plants that provide breeding and feeding areas, he said.
“In fact, some species of butterfly require a specific host plant to successfully breed because only those plants meet the nutritional needs of the larvae or caterpillars hatched from eggs,” Pierce said.
Insects found in these plant communities are also an important food source for quail chicks, he said.
Bobwhite quail, a once-abundant upland game bird, have suffered a steep population decline in Missouri and across their range during the past few decades, partly due to modern farming practices that have erased prime quail habitat. In recent years, MU Bradford Research Center has served as a laboratory for implementing practices that integrate habitat management for bobwhites into modern farm operations, Pierce said.
Pollinators play a vital part in agriculture as well as in wildlife habitats. “About 30 percent of food and fiber crop production relies on pollinators for reproduction, and Missouri is no exception with our abundance of fruit and vegetable crops,” said Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the MU Bradford Research Center.
The decrease in populations of European honeybees due to colony collapse disorder has triggered interest in other pollinators, which include native bees and other insects as well as certain bat and bird species. Native forbs and legumes found in field borders and in native vegetation around crop fields not only attract pollinators, they also draw other beneficial insects that prey on potential insect pests.
The field day begins at 1 p.m. with management demonstrations in ATV sprayer and drill calibration, tree planting and bird dog training.
The featured speaker will be Pete Berthelsen, senior field coordinator for Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever. Berthelsen was the winner of the 2011 Farmer/Rancher Pollinator Award from the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Berthelsen played a key role in making pollinator planting guidelines part of federal Conservation Reserve Program practices and other farm bill conservation programs. He will talk about enhancing habitats for pollinators.
Walking and wagon tours will look at landscaping and attracting pollinators with native plants; the economics of field borders and edge feathering to integrate wildlife habitat and farmland; and a private landowner’s perspective on implementing wildlife practices on the farm.
“We will also be conducting an afternoon and evening workshop on bobwhite quail ecology, management practices for improving habitats on the farm, the impact of predators, as well as other useful management tips,” Pierce said.
Sponsors include the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; MU Extension; Lincoln University; the Missouri Department of Conservation; the Missouri Soybean Association; and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The event is free and reservations are not required. Drinks and hamburgers will be provided after the event to those who complete a brief evaluation form.
Bradford Research Center is 6.5 miles east of Columbia at 4968 Rangeline Road. Click here for directions and for other information call 573-884-7945.