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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Quail Field Day Set for Aug. 14 at Armendaris Ranch

LAS CRUCES - Quail, premier game birds in the Southwest, will top the scientific agenda at an Aug. 14 field day near Truth or Consequences highlighting how range management affects the birds' habitat.

Quail populations in New Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert fluctuate with annual rainfall, but land management can also have a profound impact, organizers from New Mexico State University, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Armendaris Ranch said.

"This will be an excellent opportunity to discuss range management and livestock grazing practices to improve quail habitat in New Mexico," said Jon Boren, a wildlife specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

The field day begins at 8 a.m. at the Armendaris Ranch, located 17 miles east of Truth or Consequences on State Highway 51. Registration, which includes lunch, is $10 through Aug. 1 and $20 after. Participants can also receive continuing education credits for attending the event.

"Quail are our native rangeland's 'canaries in the coal mine,'" said Dale Rollins, the meeting coordinator and a Texas A&M University Extension wildlife specialist. "Show me land with a vibrant quail population, and I'll show you a dozen or more other species that are also benefiting from proper range management."

In the past five years, more than 1,400 landowners in West Texas have attended quail management educational programs to learn how their management affects quail, Rollins said.

The Armendaris Ranch was selected for the field day because of the owner's keen interest in quail, Boren said. The ranch supports populations of both scaled quail and Gambel's quail, which have been studied extensively. Researchers have been monitoring radio-collared quail on the ranch for almost two years.

The field day will open with remarks from Armendaris Ranch Manager Tom Waddell. Rollins will discuss quails' ability to adapt to their environment. Troy Sparks, a Texas A&M graduate student, will give an update on scaled quail biology, while Sanford Schemnitz, an NMSU emeritus wildlife and fisheries professor, will review Mearn's quail. John Moen, chairman of New Mexico Quail Unlimited, will talk about Gambel's quail.

The morning session ends with a report on the Bobwhite Brigade, a popular youth program featuring bobwhite quail as a means to teach leadership skills and land management. Afternoon sessions include field stops highlighting supplemental feeders and watering systems using remote cameras. Another stop features a look at nesting habitats.

For more information about the field day, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Boren in advance at (505) 646-1164 or e-mail him at jboren@nmsu.edu.