Quail surveys show improved numbers.

The Pottawatomie County March of Dimes will continue its fund raising efforts with a spaghetti dinner on Dec. 10 at Tecumseh City Hall. The dinner includes spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread, drink and dessert.

The dinner will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. Tickets are $6. Tickets may be purchased at Tecumseh Tag Agency, Branson McKiddy Real Estate and No. 9 Auto Sales.


After a model year for Oklahoma rainfall and cooler temperatures during the spring and summer, the 2013 statewide quail index has increased 31 percent from last year and is up eight percent from 2011.

"This is welcome news after the record heat and drought our quail populations have had to endure in recent years," said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "We've always said that quail success depends on weather and habitat and that populations will move up or down in direct correlation with rainfall and mild temperatures. This was the best summer we've had in seven years in terms of favorable quail conditions.

While our birds have been hit hard in recent years with record heat and drought, we got a break this year that brought us greener habitat and mild temperatures. We hope this gets hunters The improved quail index supports the idea that reproductive success will be better during years of more rainfall and milder temperatures, but Wildlife Department biologists say that doesn't mean the range-wide struggle and decline of bobwhite quail is coming to an end. The state is still 78 percent below the 23-year average when it comes to roadside quail count survey results (Table 1). Instead, they are welcoming the relief, encouraging hunters to get out in the field and are continuing to put forth strong efforts in the way of habitat work and research.

In 2011, the Department joined Oklahoma State University in a research effort at the Packsaddle and Beaver River Wildlife Management Areas in northwest Oklahoma. Together they're aggressively studying quail populations and habitat, several nesting aspects, relationships between quail and weather, movement and survival of radio-marked adult quail and chicks, thermal modeling, methods of determining quail abundance, vegetation monitoring relative to burning and grazing, aerial and terrestrial predation, and the possible effects of aflatoxins on quail and other wildlife species. The Department also worked with the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch in Texas to study quail disease.

In addition, a range of on-the-ground quail habitat work, such as prescribed burning, is conducted regularly across the state on both public and private lands.

The quail index is determined using the Department's roadside quail count surveys, conducted across the state in August and October each year to count quail and classify the timing and success of reproduction. The surveys are conducted by Department biologists who drive more than 80 routes in almost every county in Oklahoma.

The most significant increases in survey observations occurred in the southwest, northeast and south-central regions of the state, with increases up 66, 67 and 67 percent, respectively, from 2012. What was observed in other regions of Oklahoma during the surveys was more typical of what hunters have observed from the field in recent years, with observations down from 2012 by eight percent in northwest Oklahoma and 93 in the southeast region. The number of quail observed in north-central Oklahoma remained the same as what they were during the 2012 roadside surveys.

During 2011 and 2012, Oklahoma had record heat and severe drought, and quail conditions suffered. The lack of rain affected the amount of nesting cover available for the 2012 nesting season. Radio-collared birds showed a high mortality in 2012, with most deaths attributed to predation from birds and mammals due to the effects of the drought.

"This year, the research also showed that radio-collared quail were still nesting into October and these nests were successful," said Scott Cox, upland game biologist for the Department.

This is a big improvement over 2011-12, according to Cox, when research showed that the birds shut down nesting in mid-summer and did not attempt to re-nest.

Western Oklahoma remains in the forefront when it comes to quail habitat in Oklahoma and will typically have the highest population of birds in the state. While southwest Oklahoma continues to struggle with effects of severe drought, roadside survey observations still increased, probably because of well-timed - though limited - breaks from the drought. While observations in northwest Oklahoma decreased slightly, the coveys that were observed were large and showed a variety of age classes. As a whole, precipitation in this region was good throughout the nesting season, increasing the amount of insect-attracting vegetation and providing good brooding cover.


The annual Downtown Shawnee Christmas Parade will be held on Thursday, Dec. 5, in historic downtown Shawnee. The Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and will run along its normal Main Street route.

The theme for this year’s Parade is Celebrating Shawnee Heritage and entries should be designed accordingly. 
The Grand Marshal for this year’s Parade is the Shawnee Public Library.

The Shawnee Public Library was organized in 1901 with 100 books that moved from home office to home office until the stately Carnegie Library was built in Woodland Park in 1905.

In 1976, Shawnee Public Library joined the Pioneer Multicounty Library System to expand resources to Shawnee citizens. 

Entry forms may be picked up at the City Hall Annex Building (222 N. Broadway) and are due on Friday, Nov. 15. There is no entry fee. 

Please call 878-1665 for questions.



Shawnee Electronic Recycling Day in recognition of America Recycles Day will be held today from 8:30 a.m.-2 pm. The dropoff location is: Direct Colors Inc., 430 E. 10th Street, Shawnee.

Accepted materials include: computers/laptops; computer peripherals; fax machines; printers; photocopiers; VCRs; home/office phones; consumer electronics (DVD players, alarm clocks, etc.); televisions, monitors, stereos, cell phones. For more information about this event and recycling in Shawnee, visit www.sustainableshawnee.org or call 275-6657.


If you have ideas or something of interest for this column, please call me at 214-3922 or email me at michael.mccormick@news-star.com. Please include your name and a phone number for contact purposes.