The northern bobwhite is the native quail species found throughout Arkansas. These predominantly ground-dwelling birds are primarily found in areas that contain large amounts of edge habitat. Edges are boundaries between different habitat types or land use practices.
The home range of a quail covey can cover as little as 20 acres up to 160 acres. In that home range, quail require various types of habitat, including: escape cover, nesting habitat, brood rearing habitat and feeding and loafing areas.
So, what is a “covey headquarters” and how does it fit into the equation for great quail habitat? Covey headquarters are patches of escape cover with dense, shrubby canopy cover and little ground-level vegetation. Headquarters are used by quail on a daily basis to provide protection against severe weather and predators along with resting and loafing areas.
The percentage of the landscape designated as covey headquarters can range up to 20 percent of the total area, with the remainder set aside for the other habitat components needed by quail. Covey headquarters should be provided in clusters of not less than 30 feet by 50 feet blocks of shrubs that are not more than 150 feet apart, which will allow the quail to have quick access to their escape cover if the need arises.
Shrubs that serve well for this habitat component include: wild American and Chickasaw plum, fragrant and smooth sumac, rough-leaved dogwood, deciduous holly, cockspur hawthorn and American beautyberry. Plum thickets are an excellent example of quail convey headquarters and occur naturally on many properties across Arkansas.
Existing Thickets — Protect and manage any existing plum or other shrubby thickets on your property. These shrubby thickets can be improved to better benefit quail. If invasive grass species take over the ground-level cover, those grasses should be treated with a herbicide, timing depending on whether they are warm season or cool season. This will re-open that ground-level cover making it easier for quail to move throughout the headquarters. Also, any over-hanging or adjacent trees to the plum thicket should be removed from the area. This strategy will help reduce predation from overhead predators and also provide a clear flight path for quail to escape from ground predators.
Creating Thickets — If thickets do not occur naturally on your land, they can be established by planting seeds, seedlings or container-grown shrubs. For beautyberry, dogwood and sumac, spacing should be on a 3 foot by 6 foot spacing. Other shrubs can be planted on a 5 foot by 8 foot spacing. Just remember, thickets intended for use as covey headquarters should be established in edge habitat, those areas of transition between habitat types and in open fields lacking shrubby cover. After you have identified the best location for your headquarters, the existing vegetation should be controlled using an herbicide before you plant the shrubs. This will promote the growth of your new plantings as well as open the ground-level cover to facilitate quail movement throughout the new headquarters.
Headquarter Maintenance — Whether you have existing or newly planted covey headquarters, you should avoid damaging these when conducting other habitat management practices on your property, i.e. prescribed burning or disking. Herbicides can be used to control invasive grasses within and around your thickets; however care should be used to avoid spraying shrubs. Also, livestock should be excluded from these areas to maintain the integrity of the thicket as a quail covey headquarters.
Wildlife scientists want Inuit hunters to kill more Arctic-nesting geese in an effort to manage populations so out of control the birds are destroying their own habitat.
Experts acknowledge the plan isn’t likely to work and admit they don’t know what to do about ballooning numbers of Ross’s geese that are denuding large areas of the North.
“It’s really unprecedented in waterfowl management history to have a population that’s out of control and can’t be controlled through hunting,” said Jim Leafloor of the Canadian Wildlife Service. “We’re not really sure at this point where it’s all going to lead.”
Ross’s geese — which migrate between Canada’s northern coastline and as far south as California — were once hunted so extensively that their numbers were down to a few thousand in the 1930s. Environmental protections and the spread of agricultural practices that favour bird foraging have changed all that.
Kiel Drake of Bird Studies Canada estimates there are now about two million of the small, white geese. Together with about five million lesser snow geese — which have tripled their numbers since the 1970s and have similar habits — that spells big, honking trouble.
“It’s the way they feed,” said Leafloor. “They strip vegetation from fairly large areas.”
Sky-filling flocks are hammering their tundra nesting grounds in the Queen Maud Bird Sanctuary along the Northwest Passage. The destruction follows their migration path south, through the coastal marshes of Hudson Bay and James Bay.
“A lot of that habitat is already destroyed,” said Leafloor. “The losses there just continue to mount and expand into other areas.”
Grazing geese strip the land bare, exposing soil and peat. Recovery is slow in the Arctic’s cold climate and poor soil.
Ripping out vegetation also changes the flow of soil moisture. It draws salts to the surface and prevents normal plants from growing back. That, in turn, affects other birds and animals.
Last week, wildlife service officials asked the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to agree to have Ross’s geese declared overabundant, which would allow managers to expand the hunting season. The board has made a recommendation to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, who is to make the final decision.
“We think the population of (Ross’s geese) might be small enough that it could be controlled through hunting,” Leafloor said. “That remains to be seen.”
Snow geese were declared overabundant in 1999. Hunters are allowed to shoot them spring through fall, but it hasn’t made much difference.
“We think that’s an example of a population that’s beyond the ability of hunters to control.”
Nor is Mother Nature likely to take a hand by reducing numbers through overcrowding and disease. If their regular habitat becomes too degraded or crowded, the birds just find another area and strip it.
Others stay behind and eke out a living on their original feeding grounds, preventing recovery.
“The problem expands as the population expands,” Leafloor said.
No one really knows how much of the Arctic is already affected. And no one really knows where the problem is headed.
“Nobody knows what the limits are,” said Leafloor.
“We don’t know what the carrying capacity of the Arctic is. We don’t know how much food is there and how much natural habitat is available to support these geese.
“What we’re doing right now is monitoring them and watching the changes in population size and documenting changes in their range.
“But beyond that, what do you do with multimillions of geese?”
More than a million snow geese take flight over the skies of Missouri – creating the illusion of a blizzard – in these awe-inspiring pictures. The spectacle was captured in Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge as the birds began their annual summer migration back to the Arctic tundra found in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. Groups of birds numbering between 100 and 1,000 make the journey together alongside others, their swooping mass blotting out large swathes of sky.
Photographer Doug French, from Nebraska, captured the jaw-dropping scenes earlier this year. He said: ‘This flock of more than one million geese were seen leaving the refuge early in the morning at sun rise. ‘At times more than 100,000 geese would erupt from the lake in a solid white and black wall of geese and the sound of their wing beats would drown out everything else. ‘You could not see through these giant walls of geese.’
Air traffic control: The area is known as the Central Flyway due to the high volume of birds. Right, a close-up of a snow goose in mid-flight
The area is popular with the lesser snow geese because they can feed on the abundant corn and sorghum. The photographer described the scenes as ‘magnificent’
The area is popular with the lesser snow geese because its rich agricultural land provides an abundance of corn and sorghum. After feeding in the area – known as the Central Flyway due to the high volume of birds – the geese eventually head north in April and May to their Arctic breeding grounds. Mr French added: ‘The spectacle of seeing this number of snow geese in one area was truly magnificent to see and hear.’
He added: ‘It is one of Mother Nature’s must see events.’ Snow geese breed north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and winters in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico. Occasionally some make their way to Europe. Snow Geese are visitors to the British Isles where they are seen regularly among flocks of Barnacle, Brent and Greenland white-fronted geese. There is also a feral population in Scotland.
Ever wondered how foie gras is made?
Last month, a Mercy For Animals investigation uncovered stark evidence that what’s involved in the making of foie gras is nothing short of animal torture. A company in New York that produces the dish, billing itself as “the humane choice for purchasing foie gras,” was the subject of a secretly taped video by the animal advocacy group that showed ducks being abused. In light of the discovery, a website called AmazonCruelty.com has posted a petition asking Amazon.com to stop selling the dish.
According to Our-Compass.org, Dr. Greg Burkett, DVM, an avian specialist, saw the video and stated:
“If one looks at the production of foie gras for what it really is—causing a healthy [duck] liver to become diseased by forced overfeeding—then eating it could leave a whole different taste in your mouth.”
Other bird experts weighed in as well after watching the footage. Dr. Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, said:
“This overfeeding will lead to liver enlargement and malfunction, causing chronic metabolic dysfunction and illness. The ducks at this facility, therefore, are being subjected to extremely inhumane conditions causing them to suffer greatly.”
Mercy For Animals notes on its AmazonCruelty.com website that, due to the distress caused to the birds, the practice has been outlawed in California and more than a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Israel. Our-Compass.org says that leading chefs, restaurants, and grocery retailers, including Costco, Safeway, Wolfgang Puck, Giant Eagle, and Target, refuse to sell foie gras due to its inherent cruelty.
To tell Amazon.com that it’s time to follow the lead of other retailers who refuse to sell foie gras, go to AmazonCruelty.com.
The Formula One heiress received the special wedding gift from PETA after it saved the bird from a French foie gras farm that supplies Fortnum & Mason.
The animal rights group moved the goose to a French animal sanctuary and named it Tamara in honour of the 28-year-old.
Ecclestone has starred in a PETA advert against foie gras and personally convinced Formula One events to stop serving the controversial food product.
Two male geese were also rescued at the same time as Tamara and were named Sir Roger – in honour of Sir Roger Moore, who narrated PETA’s video exposé of foie gras farms – and Prince Charles, in honour of the Prince of Wales, who refuses to serve foie gras at royal events.
“Tamara has worked hard to save geese such as Sir Roger and Prince Charles from the cruelty of foie gras farms, and now the joy of her wedding will be shared with the joy of freedom that these geese now experience every day,” PETA Associate Director Mimi Bekhechi said.
“PETA wishes Tamara all the happiness that a kind-hearted, determined advocate for animals deserves.”
Celebrities including Twiggy, Ricky Gervais, Kate Winslet and Pamela Anderson have all taken a stand against the sale of foie gras, which is illegal to produce in the UK.
FRANCE – A new study shows that growing geese can be fed loose-mix without adversely affecting their performance of feeding behaviour.
Based on their results, the researchers recommend loose-mix feeding for growing geese because it influenced their feed behaviour only slightly but increased the birds’ weight at the end of the growing period.
The aim of the trial, published recently in Poultry Science, was to study the influence of loose-mix feeding on behaviour, feed intake and bodyweight of growing geese.
First-named author, J. Arroyo from the University of Toulouse and co-authors with INRA and ASSELDOR explain that they divided 252 day-old geese (Anser anser) into two groups differing in the form of diet they received between 42 and 98 days of age (AMEn 11.55MJ per kg, crude protein 16 per cent): a complete pelleted diet containing 500g of sorghum per kg (control group) or a mixture containing 500g of protein-rich pellets and 500g of sorghum whole seeds per kg (mixed group).
Feed intake was measured daily from 42 to 48 days and every three days from 49 to 98 days. Individual bodyweight was measured weekly from 42 to 98 days. Goose behaviour was monitored by the scan sampling method throughout the experiment, which was divided into five periods according to the timing of access to feed: period 1 from 42 to 55 days (ad libitum feeding access), period 2 from 56 to 62 days (2 + 2 hours feeding access), period 3 from 63 to 70 days (2 hours feeding access), period 4 from 71 to 94 days (1 hour feeding access), and period 5 from 95 to 97 days (3 hours feeding access).
Over the whole period, the feed intake (13,968 and 14,480g) and the feed conversion ratio (8.53 and 8.15) were similar in both groups (P=0.112 and P=0.168; respectively).
Body weight was similar in both groups from 42 to 91 days of age but at 98 days of age, bodyweight was 3.7 per cent lower in the control than in the mixed group (P=0.006).
Goose behaviour was influenced by period because the percentage of birds feeding increased when the daily access time to the feed decreased (P<0.001) but not by group (P>0.05).