Manage for diverse quail habitat according to this simple concept: roughly 1/3 each grasses and forbs, shrubs and bare soil. Bare soil allows movement for birds and annual plant succession.

Manage for diverse quail habitat according to this simple concept: roughly 1/3 each grasses and forbs, shrubs and bare soil. Bare soil allows movement for birds and annual plant succession.

Quail Covey Headquarters

Bob-WHITE! Invite quail by adding native vegetation to your rural landscape.

Miss the quail call on your farm? Would you enjoy hunting turkey, deer or other game on your property—or just like to create habitat to see and support wildlife? You can do all that and more with the right mix of grasses, forbs and shrubs. Quail need special habitat. In fact, biologists have found that "bobwhites" need both a certain configuration of diverse plant material and a certain amount of area to survive and thrive. For best results, a managed area of approximately 40 acres with plants that offer the right food, cover and nesting area can bring the quail's call back to your land.
If you don't have 40 acres of your own, check out surrounding land parcels. Chances are, your neighbors may have complementary habitat that you can supplement or you and your neighbors can join forces to increase quail on all properties. For optimum results, at least 1/10 acre, or approximately 4500 square feet, should be converted to quail habitat for each 40 acres. This planting conversion is often referred to as a "Quail Covey Headquarters" and is recommended by organizations including the Missouri Department of Conservation and Quail Unlimited. Covey headquarters are basically clumps or islands of dense, shrubby cover with a canopy height of at least three feet (to provide cover) and little ground vegetation (to allow free movement). These specially configured vegetative plantings provide escape and protective cover and areas for loafing (to provide protection from predators and places to rest), adjoining nesting areas (with clump forming grasses and bare ground) and brood rearing habitat (with broadleaf vegetation to attract insects for foot). The covey headquarters should physically adjoin other habitats, such as a wooded edge. A covey headquarters can be man-made or created by improving or managing the naturally existing woody vegetation on your site. The idea is to allow a progression of short, herbaceous plants to a regrowth of short to tall woody plants with the right proportion of both size and density of the vegetation. Your covey headquarters may qualify for funding to offset establishment costs. Along with recommended structure guidelines, these specially designed plantings, or those planned for other wildlife, can give you the highest Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) score. See your CRP contract for details on mix ratios and maintenance requirements. In addition, Quail Unlimited works through local chapters to subsidize landowner projects. The goal of Quail Unlimited is to increase regional habitat for quail. Landowners can find out more on the organization's website,, or by calling national headquarters at 803-637-5731. Forrest Keeling has joined forces with Sharp Brothers Seed of Clinton, Missouri to make it easy and affordable to create your own Quail Covey Headquarters. For availability and pricing, contact Forrest Keeling at 800-FKN-2401, or Sharp Brothers at 660-885-7551. All the plant materials you'll need can be shipped to you using species from the following list:


4500 sq. ft. headquarters will require 5 lbs. native seed mix and 25 woody shrubs

  • • Little Bluestem
  • • Big Bluestem
  • • Eastern Gamagrass
  • • Indian Grass
  • • Tall Nutgrass
  • • Sideoats Grama
  • • Canada or Virginia Wild Rye
  • • Illinois Bundleflower
  • • Purple Prairie Clover
  • • White Prairie Clover
  • • Gray-headed Coneflower
  • • Purple Coneflower
  • • Leadplant
  • • Roundhead Lespedeza
  • • Slender Lespedeza
  • • Partridge Pea
  • • Showy Tickclover

  • • Blackberry
  • • Gray Dogwood
  • • Roughleaf Dogwood
  • • Hazelnut/American Filbert
  • • Green Hawthorn
  • • False Indigo
  • • American Plum
  • • Chickasaw Plum
  • • Pasture Rose
  • • Serviceberry
  • • Fragrant Sumac
  • • Smooth Sumac
  • • Blackhaw Viburnum
  • • Nannyberry Viburnum
Once established, your Quail Covey Headquarters will need little care. In the first two season, or until established, keep your seeded planting zones mowed to about eight inches to reduce competition to young native plants from annuals and weeds. In succeeding years, these areas will benefit from an occasional mowing and/or burning.