The long, hot Texas Summer is drawing to a close but the very dry weather has me continuing to work on my bobwhite quail feeder. I’m counting on the bobwhite quail feeders to help me support the growing bird population and also provide an relatively easy place to monitor the size and health of the coveys. Once I’ve solved the quail feeder problem, I’m going to work on providing areas with moisture to support the attraction of bugs so that the bobwhite quail chicks have a place to find the high protein food they need.
Texas Summer Drought
This is a picture of the Blanco River about an hour North of San Antonio, Tx. This river seldom runs dry and, as you can see, it is almost completely dry with only a few stagnant water holes left. I’m sure there is some water flowing underneath because of the green vegetation in the river bed but most of the folks living in this area have had their wells run dry and their rainwater collection systems run dry as well. This is a great indicator of why a bobwhite quail feeder is almost a requirement this year.
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Problem
I’ve copied a bobwhite quail feeder design from another fellow who is having good success with his feeders but I hvae not yet solved the problem of keeping the other hungry critters away from the bobwhite quail feed. I load these feeders with scratch grains and each feeder holds about 15 pounds of feed. Between the deer, coons and hogs, they can clean me out in a week. I tried the cage around the feeder and the critters just lifted it up. So, I put a collar on the feeder to prevent them from lifting it up and they just tunnel underneath it. Not mention that the coons just push right through the little 4 inch square holes. Each of these steps has reduced the amount of feed I’m giving away but has not eliminated it. Additionally, I seldom see quail at a feeder once it has been found and raided by the critters. I think the quail can either smell or sense the critter activity and avoid that location.
Hoof Rats Raiding the Bobwhite Quail Feeder
Deer are little more than hoof rats. They will get into and almost destroy anything that has feed in it. Now, I don’t mind feeding the deer as they are valuable wildlife and we do enjoy hunting them. That said, I want them to eat at the deer feeders and not the bobwhite quail feeder.
Optimum Feed Flow in a Bobwhite Quail Feeder
The current design of the feed flow in the bobwhite quail feeder is working well. I finally got the holes large enough that the feed will flow with gravity but not flow too much. This was a challenging exercise and I had to bring a drill and drill bit with me each week and continue to slightly enlarge the holes until I achieved the proper feed flow.
Commercial Rainwater Collection System with Enhancements
Rainwater collection systems are growing in popularity in Central Texas – especially with the recent drought. Texas A&M is predicting that this drought will last another 7 to 10 years so we are investing in rainwater collectors to support our wildlife. The basic unit is a 250 gallon tank which is hooked to a water hose and runs to a watering bowl with a float in it. The basic collection area is approximately 6 feet by 8 feet and collects approximately 1 gallon of water per square foot for each 1 inch of rain. In addition to installing more rainwater collectors, we came up with the idea of simply increasing the collection area on the existing collectors. Rain has been sparse and increasing the amount of rain collected during each rain event has proven to be an inexpensive and valuable approach. IN this case, we tripled the rainwater collection area and increased our collection rate from 48 gallons per inch of rain to well over 120 gallons per inch of rain.
DIY Rainwater Collection System
While there are affordable commercial rainwater collection systems, they aren’t cheap. They cost approximately $750 to build and install. We invented our own with cheap plastic barrels to hold the rainwater and scrap iron. The total dollar cost on this unit was less than $150. However, the labor cost was higher as it required some time to thin, design, engineer, install and tune this system. You can see the float controlled water bowl in the foreground. The three barrels are connected via simple piping and this unit has a 150 gallon capacity. It will be easy to expand the capacity with additional barrels if and when it might be needed.
Seep Muhlie and Underground Water
Seep Muhlie is a plant that occasionally indicates the presence of underground water. Big Muhlie, a larger variety, definitely indicates the presence of an underground spring. We’ve tried water witching or dowsing several times and always get a very positive reading over seep muhlie. Additionally, the soil where seep muhlie grows tends to be heavy with clays which is also a good indicator of either underground water or water holding capability.
What Lies Under Seep Muhlie?
We needed some extra fill dirt for a barn we recently built so we had the contractor take the dirt from underneath a small area where seep muhlie were growing. I was hoping we’d tap right into a flowing spring (not really) but we didn’t find anything except more dry clayish dirt. I’m not done yet as I do believe in the effectiveness of the dowsing rods. Nevertheless, I do think this area has god water holding capacity so we also located the dig near a spot that will have good runoff if and when it does rain.
Summary of Rainwater Collection and Bobwhite Quail Feeder
The Texas drought is drawing to a close. We’ve had a bit of rain recently and the temperatures are cooling off. Too little too late I think and we are doubling down on our support mechanisms for our wildlife. I continue experimenting with my bobwhite quail feeder to reduce the feed loss due to critters. We also continue to invest time and money in rainwater harvesting and collection. It’s going to be a tough winter for the wildlife but early indications are that our current efforts are helping. Our white tail deer population is maturing nicely and we are regularly seeing bobwhite quail near the bobwhite quail feeder, in small groups with babies and in larger coveys.