Elberton native wants to hear quail at sunset again
After moving home some years ago from Columbia, South Carolina where he worked in the National Guard, Elberton native Sid Johnson noticed he barely heard the iconic call of the Bobwhite Quail — a whistling sound that is known to resemble it’s own name of “bob … bob white.”
Sid and many others that enjoy listening for the bird’s call say the bird isn’t heard as often these days.
Sid says the reason why the population has dramatically decreased over recent years is due to landscaping and development of the land that is the bird’s natural habitat.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia’s quail population has declined more than 85 percent since the 1960s due to the loss of “quality early successional habitat” which includes native grasses, weeds and shrubs.
“They can fly ... but they’d rather walk and stay close to the ground in the brush to hide from predators,” Sid discusses.
Sid, with over 100 hundred acres of family land that he says he purchased in the 1970s, decided to use his own property to create a natural habitat for the birds.
He says he doesn’t bush hog certain areas of his land in order for brush and lespedeza (shrubby plants and trailing vines known commonly known as bush clovers) to grow, creating a place for the birds to freely roam while remaining camouflage to predators.
But before the birds can freely roam in the brush, Sid raises them in captivity in an effort to “try to reestablish the population.”
“This used to be a Shetland pony farm… I turned the old barn into a place for the birds,” he said.
In his barn Sid has all the equipment to raise the birds from the time they hatch to adulthood, which is when he begins to release them.
Sid explained that it begins during an incubation period.
He said that he orders the eggs from Georgia Quail Farm (GQF) where they are shipped out of Savannah.
“I get approximately 200 eggs … out of those eggs probably 50 to 80 percent will hatch,” he said.