I’m often asked what plant varieties are best for a quail habitat. It’s a great question and choosing native plants for your area may include additional research; I’ll be referencing options that are common across north America.
Quail have a fun diet that consists of seeds, grains and berries. They also like to eat bugs but today I’m sharing plants for a permanent sanctuary that compliment a natural quail environment. The following information is suitable for bobwhite quail and can also be implemented for coturnix.
It’s been my experience coturnix quail can be particular so don’t be surprised if you plant something and they ignore it or better yet they absolutely love it.
Studies show there are more than 1,000 different plants to satisfy a quail diet; don’t worry I’m not going to cover 1,000 plants but I will be sharing those with the greatest nutrition value.
Quail also prefer a mixture of native grasses for nesting and seed nutrition. A natural quail environment should have at least two or three different types of grass available. I’ll be covering this in further detail later this month because today I want to focus on the basics which is seeds, grains and berries.
Planting for Seed
There are many plants that provide seeds for quail to eat.; some offer a higher nutrition value than others. In the wild seeds are available from the fall through winter, this is important as food can be minimal that time of year.
If you’re raising quail in captivity offering these plants will enhance their quality of life and help detour feed costs. The following is a list of beneficial plants for quail.
- Giant ragweed
- Western ragweed
- Osage orange (from Bois d arc trees)
Additional options that bobwhite quail like include dove weed, bristle grass, beggarweed, cowpea, oak acorns, and wild bean. Choosing a nice selection of ragweed, soybean and sunflowers would be easy to incorporate for both breeds of quail.
In Texas Osage oranges drop from August through fall; they’re loaded with seeds and can be gathered then placed in the habitat to supplement their diet.
Plant by choosing at least three native plants for either quail breed, the goal is to benefit their environment not overdue it.
Planting Types of Grain
Incorporating grain is very similar to the benefits of seed planting because you’re seeking additional plants quail enjoy. We’re keeping this list simple with the four basics we’re all familiar with.
Planting one by alternating the others between planting seasons could be another option. A quail diet consists about 80% seed and grains so by adding just a few options in addition to their regular feed you’re offering value to their life.
Let me also add by do this it enhances the entire quail experience for everyone involved.
Planting berries is fun, it’s kind of like a dish of ice cream for quail because they make the cutest sounds when they eat fruit. The easiest berry plants to implement would be blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.
The first three would require careful planning and space as the vines and bushes can grow quite large. If your quail home is small adding these berries may not be an option.
If you have a garden then think about planting berry crops nearby the quail habitat. A mature harvest would allow sharing with the quail, do this by adding small amounts to the ground inside their home.
Since strawberry plants are smaller and require less space they would be the least difficult to incorporate. Strawberry plants can be started by seed or purchased as mature plants in the early spring and fall. I haven’t met a quail yet that doesn’t love strawberries.
Plant with a Vision
When adding plant life for nutrition to any quail habitat remember to plant with the vision. Quail are field birds that live on the ground and prefer hunting for food by foot over flying so it would make sense to plant an environment that looks a bit whimsical with a walk path for you, the path provides a safe place to step without harming the birds as they camouflage to perfection.
If a structured planting setting with raised beds is more to your liking that would also work by also adding an area with tall grass so the birds can utilize their instincts. Choosing the right plants is a matter of incorporating grain and berries that also leave behind seed.
Creating a natural quail environment can be just as fun as raising the birds, are you ready to begin?