For many, the call of a bobwhite quail defines the bluegrass region’s summer soundtrack. Sadly, quail have become scarce in this region due to a variety of factors. In fact, globally they are a near-threatened species. Thanks to intentional, ongoing, and focused habitat restoration work in The Parklands, and support from our wonderful partners at Commonwealth Chapter Quail Forever and Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, quail are now being heard, seen, and experienced in Beckley Creek Park.
Here’s the scoop. Quail in Jefferson County have declined in total numbers due to a loss of habitat and increased predation. The expansion of fescue meadows was one of the biggest impediments to quail as this specific grass is next to impossible for young quail to navigate. Our work in the northern parks focused primarily on the removal of fescue meadows that had grown in and snuffed out quail habitat. We replace these fields with native warm season grasses. Joining us in this initiative are Commonwealth Chapter Quail Forever, who provided a grant to allow us to hire an additional summer seasonal intern from Eastern Kentucky University, and Kentucky Fish & Wildlife who provided expert guidance on the seed mix that creates these meadows.
Park guests notice these meadows most prominently during the explosion of summer wildflowers. What guests may have missed was that underneath these flowers, little pathways were being developed that are perfect homes for quail as they offer cover and food. It’s a perfect marriage providing beauty to the eye and great habitat for the critters.
Beginning about three weeks ago, we started to sporadically hear quail around the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Pavilion. This surprised us as the meadows in this area are not particularly large and they are in close proximity to large groups of people. But, the sightings kept increasing and we knew we were on the right path. Remember, one of our park’s goals is to bring you into contact with nature. This isn’t accidental.
Well, we have now received multiple confirmed reports of Bobwhite quail in the PWC and Humana Grand Allee areas, so we’re confident that they are here in good numbers and hopefully having successful hatches of youngsters. So, this shy, reclusive, ground dwelling bird is back. But, these guys can be tough to spot.
The cover in the meadows is such that they are very well hidden for most of the day. The best way to “experience” quail in The Parklands is through their call. Below is a link to their calls.
Walk the Black Willow Trail at dusk or in the mid-mornings for your best chance to hear quail in Beckley Creek Park.
And this isn’t all. We expect quail to survive and thrive in the much larger warm season grass meadows of Turkey Run and Broad Run Parks in the coming years as those areas establish and grow-in. These new meadows are made possible by the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Urban Conservation Initiative. All of this means that the sound of summer in the bluegrass is coming back to Louisville.
Welcome home, Bobwhite quail! We’re glad to have you back!
Scott served as the Parks Director for The Parklands of Floyds Fork from 2010 to 2017. Tasked with operating the park, Scott served as member of the leadership team that sought to reapply the metropolitan planning and development lessons of Fredrick Law Olmsted in the new century with the wrinkle of the new model being a private/public partnership. Scott joined The Parklands team in 2010 after serving eight years as the Director of Commerce & Leisure Services in Franklin County, VA. In this capacity, he was part of the County’s leadership team overseeing economic development, parks & recreation, tourism, and pilot open space conservation programs. Prior to Franklin County, Scott spent five years working for the Boise (Idaho) Parks and Recreation Department as the Coordinator of Partnerships during which time he provided staff support and conservation planning for the successful $10 million Foothills Open Space Serial Levy campaign that has preserved over 9,000 acres of land to date. Scott holds a MPA (Natural Resource and Environmental Policy with honors) and BA (Political Science) from Boise State University. Scott and his wife spend their free time kayaking, camping, and hiking.
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