Bobwhite Quail Garden Release

Originally when I started raising quail I had this idea of welcoming Bobwhite quail.  I wanted to help repopulate the decline I kept hearing so much about.

This is something I’m interested in doing so I released a few in the garden. 

This flock is now 12 weeks old and I’m pleased with the experience.

When I moved the quail outdoors in June they seemed a little uneasy to explore their new territory. Within a two week period I noticed something in the grass outside the sanctuary.  Can you guess what it was?

It was two quail who I’m guessing escaped during that first couple of weeks.  I can’t figure out how and after trying to catch them I decided, “Why not let them live free?”

Four weeks later another quail arrived and things got exciting when native Bobwhite arrived here on the farm.  Especially since I didn’t raise them.

They joined these two for a few weeks and then eventually left.

This very simple experience was pretty inspiring leading me to think I could possibly raise quail in my garden outside a coop setting.

From there I decided that little flock of two needed to grow.

Quail Garden Release

The concept of releasing for now has changed to open free range release.  Mainly because quail are hard to catch and gathering isn’t as much fun as it may sound.

A week ago I opened the door and walked a few towards the entrance leaving the rest of the group at the far end of the sanctuary.  They stood at the door and after several minutes one jumped out and the others followed.  I went and gathered two more quail leaving me a total of 10 quail in the garden.

The first thing they did was flock up with the original two.  Before I knew it they were off to discover the garden. Nobody was flying away; I just stood by watching.

Now when I come to the garden I’m greeted by happy bobwhite quail living free.  It’s been said you can’t raise quail in an open environment and I’ve been quoted stating that.

I’m not sure how long they’ll actually stick around but for now I’m enjoying their activity.

New Bug Patrol

Quail are excellent for debugging the garden, way better than chickens because they look for everything without destroying the plants.

Chickens mainly want the larger bugs and can be destructive as they travel trying to find them.  Don’t underestimate quail, they will take down a grasshopper and enjoy the feast, it just takes them a little longer verses chickens.

A Little Shelter

The garden doesn’t offer a lot of shade during the day, there is a good 6 hours where extreme sunlight beats down.

Providing a shelter box for shade was something I decided would help them out in addition to a water dish. They also drink water from the bird bath and the raised beds after watering.

They also found the cucumber and zinnia plants to be a great place for shade.

There’s even an area of tall grass they’ve discovered while roaming which is what you really want for quail.

How to Release in Garden

How to release quail in the garden is simple and it begins with a starter flock that is raised on the ground in an enclosed run.

Between  7 and 10 weeks you set free at least 10 quail. Bobwhites have strong flocking instincts so I would make sure to have at least 10 – 15 in the release batch.

The garden should also be fenced especially if you have dogs or cats.

Our quail actually went on a farm tour and visited the pastures but they come back so I’m guessing it’s because they recognize it’s a safe place.

I did continue to feed a little bit in the mornings, along with a water dish and shelter box.  This isn’t mandatory and honestly not necessary but I wanted to encourage them to stay for awhile so I could observe their activity.

Quail have wonderful instincts and it’s very unlikely they will stay for a long period of time in your garden.  Even if they eventually fly away it’s been a fun experience.

If this sounds like something you want to try in your garden I would only recommend doing this if you live in the country. Eventually these quail will leave and when they do it nice to know they have the countryside to roam.



  1. Laurie silvia says:

    I am very interested in farming quail for release. I was told they don’t rear their own when you buy farmed quail. Is this true? I would love to farm and release.

    1. Carole says:

      Not true my current Batch of bobwhites came from a hatchery last fall and this year they hatched two batches of chicks in our sanctuary and it looks like a third is in the works. I have two posts about it on my blog that you may find helpful. I believe many times people say it’s not possible without even trying. It takes patience and time and allowing the birds to be left alone and be birds in a large natural environment.

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