Out of wildfire comes hope for rare bird
Mountain quail to be released on outskirts of Eyerly Fire
April 9, 2003 — This week, 30 mountain quail will be released near Fly Creek on the Deschutes National Forest with tiny transmitters.
This location is near where the Eyerly Fire burned 23,573 acres and 18 homes in Central Oregon last summer. It was selected because the edge of this fire provides excellent habitat for this elusive bird.
Mountain Quail are the largest and some say, with their distinctive tall, thin, slightly backward-tilting head plume, the most elegant North American quail.
They traditionally ranged throughout the Northwest, living at higher elevations where they prefer brush, scrub and thickets. But, over the last few decades their numbers have plummeted as fire has been excluded from forests.
They were recently proposed for listing as an endangered species. However, during the past three years success in releasing and tracking Mountain Quail on the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest helped postpone their listing.
This success is the result of a partnership between Quail Unlimited, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and USDA Forest Service.
Wildlife biologists believe recent fires in the area provide excellent habitat for the resurgence of the species. Quail previously released in the area with transmitters have moved to the edge of last year's burn. Seven previously released quail have paired with native Mountain Quail already in the area and are establishing nests.
Wildlife biologists hope this week's release will continue to build upon the success of the past few years.