The primary mission of the Great South Bay Audubon Society is to advocate for the conservation of habitats for native birds and other native wildlife on Long Island.

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Northern Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project

The GSBAS’ Adopt-A-Quail Program gives members an opportunity to aid the Northern Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project at Connetquot River State Park Preserve.

The goal of this project is to restore the quail population to a self-sustaining level while educating the community about wildlife and the environment, as well as naturally reducing the tick population within the preserve.

The Northern Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project was started in 2006 by local resident, Cathy Wilvert. Cathy is a registered nurse, avid horsewoman, and nature lover who is concerned about the lack of ground birds and the high number of ticks at the preserve. With help from her husband, Ken, and four daughters, Theresa, Megan, Jennifer, and Emily, Cathy has been working steadily raising the chicks and releasing them in the preserve.

Your Adopt-A-Quail donation goes towards the purchase of a Northern Bobwhite Quail chick and its care until release day and each adoption only costs only $5.00 per quail.

Click here to download the adoption form.

Release Day 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Northern Bobwhite Quail Restoration project got off to a rocky start this year. Due to post 9-11 postal regulations, overnight shipping is no longer guaranteed. Unfortunately, it took 2 days for the chicks to arrive at their new home. The delay took its toll on the day old chicks. Many of them arrived dead or died shortly thereafter despite the heroic efforts of Cathy Wilvert and her helpers.

To increase the chances of the chicks surviving on their own in Connetquot River State Park Preserve (CRSPP), Cathy instituted some changes. While the chicks don’t imprint on humans, too much interaction with people and their pets (Cathy has a small farm with horses, goats, chickens, pheasants, a dog and a cat and her family) desensitizes the quail. This exposure leaves the quail less wary of their surroundings making them sitting ducks for predators. For this reason, we don’t allow quail adopters or other interested people to visit the quail at Cathy’s or to participate in their release. Cathy has kept some of the quail for educational purposes. They can been seen at various GSBAS outreach programs such as the Heckscher State Park Spring Festival and at our booth at the Friends of Connetquot Gala.

When the chicks arrived at Cathy’s they were quickly assessed. Those who were able to drink on their own were swiftly put into the brooding pen. Prolonged human interaction was saved for those chicks that were weak and needed some help in taking their first drink. Cathy also made major changes to the flight pen. She added a mesh to the outside of the pen that prevents the chicks from seeing out into her busy property. Cathy also constructed an automated watering system.

The changes Cathy put in place worked. Actually, they worked too well. On release day, July 5, 2012, the quail were so unaccustomed to human interaction that Cathy was not able to get all of them into the transport cages. Those that did enter the cages tried desperately to get out causing them to loose feathers and become extremely stressed. Cathy’s first priority is the quail and their well-being so she bypassed the transport cages and released them right into her yard. Cathy’s property borders CRSPP so many of the 450 released quail have made their own way into the park and have been seen by park employees.

Quail Food Plot at Connetquot River State Park Preserve

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012, was an overcast, humid day without a breeze.  It was a day perfect for mosquitoes and planting.  Cathy Wilvert and Judy Davis planted a 2 acre food plot for the Northern Bobwhite Quail at Connetquot River State Park Preserve (CRSPP).  The seeds consisted of Long Island Ecotypes of Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indiangrass and Switchgrass, as well as Virginia Wildrye, Deertongue, Partridge Pea, Butterfly Milkweed, New England Aster, and Blackeyed Susan.  The plants will provide cover, nesting material, and seed for food and they will attract insects should the quail tire of eating ticks.

This project was a collaboration of many people and organizations.  Cathy and Kenny Wilvert are the heart and soul of the quail restoration project.  They mowed and rototilled the 2 acres twice to prepare it for planting.  The Wilverts along with CRSPP’s Gil Bergen and Annie McIntyre, Polly Weigand from Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Judy Davis, GSBAS’ chapter president worked for many months fine tuning seed selection.  The project was made possible thanks to Audubon New York and their Audubon in the Parks project.  Funding was provided through a Toyota TogetherGreen grant.

The 2012 batch of Northern Bobwhite Quail chicks are busy growing and will soon move into the flight pen to prepare them for release into CRSPP.  Hopefully the rainy days ahead will provide the seeds with the perfect growing conditions and soon we will have a lush food plot that will help the quail as they settle into their new home.

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Judy Davis

2012 Arrival of Northern Bobwhite Quail Chicks at CRSPP

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On May 3rd, 700 Northern Bobwhite Quail chicks arrived marking the beginning of this year’s quail restoration project.

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Judy Davis

2011 Northern Bobwhite Quail Release at CRSPP

Sunday, June 18, 2011

Story by Carol Jansch

How do you safely prepare to gather and move over 600 Northern Bobwhite quail chicks that are ready for release into the wilds of Connectquout River State Park Preserve? If you are Cathy Wilvert, a member of the Friends of Connetquot, you call upon your five years of quail rearing experience and along with a crew of dedicated volunteers, specially designed transport cages, a pickup truck, and a dry weather forecast you are ready for release day.

Early on Saturday, June 18, 2011 the volunteers met at the quails’ brooder house and flight pen located on Cathy’s property that borders Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Many trips from the pen to the preserve would be needed but before we could transport them, each quail needed to be counted and then corralled from the brooding house through a small door into waiting cages. The cages were kept covered to keep the quail calm and then loaded onto the truck for the mile or so ride to the release location. They are released in an area off-limits to preserve visitors, near the edge of a wooded area that opens to a large, grassy field. The Bobwhites will feed on grasses and insects, especially the ticks that are abundant in the Preserve. The dry weather forecast over the next few days helps the quail adjust and harden to their new environment without having to deal with the elements, increasing their survival rate.

While all of the 620 quail safely made it to the release point, not all of the Bobwhites wanted to go. One made himself comfortable on the hood of the truck, refusing to move.  “Ford”, as he was subsequently named, rode back with us to the farm. Ford then joined a group of five other Bobwhites who will accompany Cathy when she educates and lectures on the importance of restoring the Bobwhite quail to the Preserve.

Since Cathy began her release program in 2005, close to 4,000 Northern Bobwhite quail, raised from hatchlings, have been released in the Connetquot River State Park Preserve. The Great South Bay Audubon Society is pleased to support this effort to restore the Bobwhites to their natural environment. You may be able to see the quail when you visit the Preserve if you look carefully from the pathways into the grass.   The quail are most active in the mornings and in winter they congregate near the feeders located near the main house.

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Carol Jansch

Northern Bobwhite Quail Family program at Brookside

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Juliane Wohler

Into the Flight Pen

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Wednesday, 25 May 2011, the Northern Bobwhite Quail chicks graduated from their brooding pens to their flight pens. One would think the door to the outside world opened and the chicks would run happily out. Not so! The chicks need to be gently herded out the door, which isn’t an easy task while balancing on the thin beams that hold up the mesh floors. Add to that the aroma of 640 chicks pooping, the heat of the brooding lamps, and their high-pitched warning calls and well…you get the picture.

Bobwhite Quails when frightened will explode in a frenzy of jumping, flapping, and all out trying to escape. This is very dangerous for the birds in the confined area of the brooding pen. Cathy Wilvert takes great care in avoiding such explosions. With time and a lot of patience, all the chicks were in their flight pens. Now began the chore of cleaning out the brooding pens and the rescue of one little chick.

One chick managed to find himself under the mesh floor of the brooding pen. No one knows for sure how he managed to escape but Cathy suspects that when the chicks first arrived and were the size of a quarter, he popped up and into the wider mesh on the walls separating the two brooding pens. Plenty of food fell down to him because he grew along with the rest of the chicks. His problem was the hardened, poop booties on his feet. With much soaking, Cathy was able to wash his feet clean and off he went to join the rest of the chicks in the flight pen.

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Judy Davis

Northern Bobwhite Quail Chicks

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thanks to the Environmental Office personnel at Connetquot River State Park Preserve, the museum now boasts special Northern Bobwhite Quail posters, designed by Annie McIntyre. The “feathers” on these quail posters contain the names of all the generous Adopt-A-Quail participants. One feather was created for every quail chick adopted. Why not stop by the museum and find your special feather.

On May 4th, seven hundred day old Northern Bobwhite Quail chicks arrived at their new home. A team of six volunteers worked quickly to remove the chicks from the packing crates, give each chick a few drops of fortified water by hand, and place them under the warmth of the brooding lights. It is amazing to see how tiny they are at a mere 1/5 of an ounce!

By May 13th, the chicks were already big enough to graduate from their “baby” pens to an intermediate area within the brooding house. Soon they will be ready to move to the flight pen where they will grow stronger before their release into Connetquot River State Park Preserve.

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Carol Jansch and Judy Davis

"Help Feed the Quail" Berry Bush Planting

April 16, 2011

Click the photos to enlarge and read captions

Photos courtesy of Randy Schmitt

The cold, damp weather didn’t stop our volunteers from spending their day planting 100 berry bushes at Connetquot River State Park Preserve.  The bushes will become a natural food source for the Northern Bobwhite Quail.

After a morning of planting, volunteers Jody Banaszak, Judy Davis, Meg Newman, Elena Salina, Aimee and Randy Schmitt, Edith and Bob Wilson, and Cathy Wilvert were treated to a home made ziti lunch thanks to Cathy and Megan Wilvert.

With full stomachs, we returned to work creating fencing around each plant to protect them from being nibbled on by the deer.  We finished up just as the rain arrived.