The Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophorus), Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Congratulations to Pola Galie for the coverage and recognition she is receiving for her Quail in the Classroom project. Quail in the Classroom is part of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Environmental Projects (EP), President, Ed Markoswki.
Below is a link to pictures of Quail in the Classroom at a school in Waretown, NJ. They were published in yesterday's Asbury Park Press.
Below is coverage of Pola's Quail in the Classroom Project published in "The Sandpaper.Net"
The Tuckerton Seaport is expecting; 120 fluffy peeps, or baby quail, should be hatching any day now as part of the [New Jersey Outdoor Alliance EP] Quail in the Classroom Project. Folklife Center Director Jaclyn Stewart Wood said the Seaport is one of only two public organizations in the state besides schools to participate in the program; The Barnyard Sanctuary in Blairstown, Warren County, is the other.
The Seaport took possession of 120 eggs and an incubator about 20 days ago and have them on display on the ground floor of the Visitors Center. Once they hatch, they will be moved to a fly pen being constructed behind the center, where they will remain for another two or three weeks.
"They can only stay in the brood pen for five days, and then they need to be moved or they won't learn to fly," Wood said. The quail will then be released into the wild.
"Part of the quail program is to teach people about conservation," said Wood. "We teach them about nesting habitats and (the quails') life cycle out in the woods."
As part of the April Arts celebration at the Tuckerton Seaport, adults and children were invited to paint quail "flatties," one-sided decoys made by decoy carver George Ross.
Statewide, the distribution of eggs and incubators is being coordinated by Paula Galie, operations manager of the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education in Waretown.
Twelve schools in New Jersey are participating in Quail in the Classroom, including Pinelands Regional Junior High School and Waretown Elementary School. Galie said the need for awareness of quail habitat loss is paramount. "There are less then 3,000 wild quail in New Jersey; the numbers have been going down steadily in the last 40 years."
Besides raising the birds, participants must also do a habitat project of some kind, said Galie. This could be a PowerPoint demonstration on the need for habitat restoration, for instance. "The birds have been in New Jersey for eons, and there is a limited season on them as a game bird. Besides commercial hunting reserves, there are only two places in the state where they can still be hunted, and that's Greenwood Fish and Wildlife Management Area in Ocean County and Peaslee down south," in Cumberland County.
Besides habitat loss, the birds are heavily predated by hawks and other raptors and by mammals such as coyotes, raccoons and fox. "Only about 10 percent of the predation is done by free-roaming pets or feral cats," Galie said.
The Tuckerton Seaport and the Lighthouse Center are the only sites that will have fly pens for the fledgling quail. Once the birds hatch in the schools, Galie will collect the survivors.
"When they hatch, they are about the size of a bumblebee, little fur balls that peep," she said. After the birds are raised in the fly pen for about six months, they are returned to the wild, where they face slim chances of survival.
"It takes them about six weeks to realize that we are not coming with food. If they do learn things on their own and make it to the winter months, they need about eight birds in a covey (group) to huddle and survive the climate. This is the second year of the program, and we have gone out and called for them; they are all banded, and there have been some survivors."
The eggs come from a commercial breeding company. The incubated and domesticated quail unfortunately don't have much of a chance of replenishing the population in the wild, said Andrew Burnett, a principal biologist with the DEP Bureau of Wildlife Management.
"The Quail in the Classroom project is really designed to raise awareness of what quail need in terms of habitat," he said. "The raised quail are kept for about a month, and then Galie collects them. Last year we released about 75 birds, but there is a high mortality rate (in the wild). There's lots of predation, and should they breed, the likelihood of the chicks being raised by the hen is slim. It's a learned behavior; it's not instinctual."
Burnett said quail also need varied habitat, something they won't find in the Pinelands. "In the spring, they need grasslands in which to make their nest; in the summer they need broadleaf weeds or agricultural lands that provide a lot of insects for them to feed on. In late fall and winter, they need brushy woodlands to take refuge in.
"When New Jersey had a lot of chicken farms, we had a lot of quail, but over the years the forest has taken over, and quail are not an interior-forest species."
--- Pat Johnson