Bobwhite quail are holding steady if not doing better than they were just a few short years ago, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Photo provided

It was another good year for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Small Game project's bobwhite whistle count.

The Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) Whistling Cock census was conducted for the 40th consecutive year in 2018, and for the third year in a row, SCDNR small game biologists reported an increase in the average number of bobwhites calling per route. This is the first time since the survey began in 1979 there have been three consecutive years of increases.

"Although quail populations in South Carolina are still down 69 percent from their historical highs, the recent increases on the whistle counts combined with good brood surveys and positive fall covey count surveys indicate that the bobwhites are holding steady if not doing better than they were just a few short years ago," said SCDNR Small Game Program Leader Michael Hook.

Whistling Cock Survey data are used in conjunction with Quail Brood Survey data, Quail Hunter Survey data, and Fall Covey Count data to assess the population status of quail statewide as well as the effects of land use change and other factors, such as weather, on the statewide quail population.

"We will be conducting Fall Covey Call Surveys across the state for the next couple of weeks," added Hook, "so in a month or so we will have a good idea of how the birds will be looking for the upcoming quail season."