149 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Quail CSI / Scent Station
Even if youre on the right track, youll get run over if you just sit there, Anonymous
Objectives: The students will -
observe animal tracks
distinguish between predators and prey
draw inferences based on observations of nest depredation
analyze, describe, and compare adaptive characteristics and behaviors that improve a species ability to survive and reproduce in an ecosystem
explain how the predator/prey relationship affects populations of quail and its predator species
Materials: Hula hoop and 4 bags of flour (medium bags)
Scent bait or small cans of tuna Animal track molds (or do by hand) 2 chicken eggs (fresh) Quail remains for both kill stations (feathers, gizzard, split open breast shredded) 15 metal washers or colored tape Flagging tape to mark nests and kills Copies of Data Sheets for each student or team Access to Common Predators of Quail, Guide to Animal Track and Eggshell Evidence
150 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
TEKS for Quail CSI / Scent Station
Science Readiness Standards
8.11ABC Bio.7E; Bio 11D; Bio.12AF
Science Supporting Standards
5.9C; 7.10B; 7.12B;
Bio.7BCD; Bio11B; Bio.12BD
Science Process Skills Embedded in at least 40% of STAAR Questions
4.1AB; 4.2ABDF; 4.3AC; 4.4AB
5.1 AB; 5.2ABCDF; 5.3AC; 5.4AB
6.1AB; 6.2ABCE; 6.3ABC; 6.4AB
7.1AB; 7.2A; 7.3ABC; 7.4AB
8.1B; 8.2A; 8.3ABC; 8.4AB
Science TEKS not otherwise noted, but
Welcome to Quail CSI. Everyone knows what CSI stand for- correct? (Crime Scene Investigations)
Correct. We are here today to investigate some animal crime scenes. Something is preying on our quail nests and we need to figure out what it is. Each group leader is going to lead you down a trail to investigate the crime scene. Your job is to look at the clues and figure out who is destroying the nest. A few rules to remember before we go:
Please be careful we are in the country so watch your step.
Respect the crime scenes and move carefully around them to avoid destroying any the evidence that might be found.
Always respect your classmates and instructors. Listen carefully and participate in solving the crime scene case.
HERE WE GO! 1. Walk students to the 1st Station area. Have a seat on the ground. 2. Have students turn to the Quail CSI Student Worksheet page. 3. Show the quail model (or picture). 4. Discuss and identify quail adaptive characteristics and other facts such as:
Quail and many birds that spend the majority of their life on the ground are very susceptible to predators.
Quail need a good mixture of both bunchgrasses and forbs (weeds and wildflowers) in order to survive.
They nest amongst the grass, feed on the seeds from the forbs and use the vegetation as a camouflage from predators.
151 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
1. Can you distinguish between the male and female quail? (Males have a white collar and white around the eyes. Females have a tan collar with tan around
their eyes. (Sometimes hard to see when they are camouflaged) 2. Which one do you think is the juvenile and which one is an adult? Hint- look at the
primary coverts. (Juveniles will have small, buff-tipped coverts. Adults will be solid.)
3. Where do quail prefer to put their nests? (Bunchgrasses are preferred choice. They also like prickly pear cactus, dense brush or briars. Good nesting grounds for quail should include 200-300 bunchgrass clumps per acre.)
4. Why would quail prefer these types of nests? (protection from predators)
5. How many eggs will a quail typically lay? ( 6-18 )
6. Why will a quail lay so many eggs compared to a bird that nests in a tree? (A nest on the ground is susceptible to more predators so survival rate is lower.)
7. What size is a baby quail? (Chicks are about the size of a bumblebee and are often referred to as bumblebees.) What do quail chicks eat? (They eat insects for protein to promote rapid growth. They are too small to reach most seeds.)
8. What do adult quail eat? (Their diet consists of mostly seeds and some insects.)
152 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
153 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Adult Female Quail Adult Male Quail
Good Quail Cover Baby Quail (A Bobwhite sticks his head out making sure (Sometimes called bumblebees or buttons) there are no predators before leaving his cover area. They are constantly on guard.)
154 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
155 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Station 1: Scent Station
(Station #1 can be used as a standalone station or part of a field investigation day.)
A landowner may or may not be able to influence their quail population by controlling predators.
Before predator management is put into action a landowner should attempt to identify the types of predators on their land.
One way to estimate predator populations is to set out scent stations. While looking at the prepared scent station explain to students the steps used to prepare the station. Have students look at their guides and see if they can identify any of the tracks visible on the prepared scent station. Steps to prepare scent station:
1. Locate a flat area that is mostly free of grass, weeds, or rocks. 2. Spread the 2 bags of flour in a circle. 3. Place a can of tuna fish or scent bait in the center of the flour. 4. Smooth the flour out so there are no marks. 5. Let it sit for at least 24 hours. (If more than 48 hours you may have trouble
identifying the tracks.)
156 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Questions: Allow students to use the guide to animal tracks page, egg shell evidence page, predator picture page or a field guide such as Critters of Texas to identify footprints.
1. Are all the identified animals quail predators? (no) Which ones are predators? (answers will vary depending on footprints present)
2. Why would a turkey or deer be drawn to the scent station? (curiosity, but not as a predator)
3. Why would a landowner want to increase the quail population? (Many landowners enjoy a diverse group of wildlife on their property including wild quail.)
4. Look at and discuss some common predators of quail. (use pictures) Can you identify specific adaptations for predators you selected? (Example; a coyote has a sensitive nose to help locate food. Raccoons have use of their front paws to remove egg shells efficiently.)
If time allows students can sketch the footprints and the critters they suspect have visited the scent station.
157 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Station 2: Intact Nest
The intact nest should be located in bunchgrass, with the eggs undisturbed. The landowner places a washer under each egg so they can tell if the eggs are disturbed or moved. Background information:
Quail nest in the spring, and the babies hatch in June and July.
They are precocial (covered with down and capable of moving about when hatched).
Quail build their nest in dense bunchgrass areas.
A hen will move her chicks to a less dense area with taller weeds after hatching. Questions:
1. Why do you think the hen moves the chicks after hatching? (It is very difficult for the chicks to walk in bunchgrass, so the hen moves them to a less dense area with taller weeds. There the chicks will find plenty of insects and still have good cover to help keep them away from predators).
2. Would fire ants be an issue to newly hatching quail? (yes) 3. Because quail are so susceptible to predators, what might their niche in the
ecosystem be? (provide food for predators)
158 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Station 3: Nest Depredation (Bobcat) Eggs are eaten very close to the nest. Eggs are broken open on the side. Questions:
1. What predator committed this crime against the quail nest? (bobcat) 2. How can you tell it wasnt a gray fox? (eggs are not carried away from the nest) 3. What physical adaptations does a bobcat have to use in getting the contents of
the egg? ( paws, teeth, tongue)
Station 4: Nest Depredation (Raccoon) Eggs are close to the nest. The shells have been completely taken apart. Questions:
1. What predator committed this crime? (raccoon) 2. How can you tell it wasnt a striped skunk? (Skunks mostly take the tops off, but
raccoons take the shells apart.) 3. What physical adaptation does a raccoon have to use in getting the contents of
the egg? (Raccoon has front paws that are similar to our hands, teeth and tongue.) Note: raccoons tend to be the most common egg predator
Station 5: Quail Kill (Bobcat predator)
All that remains are a few feathers and the gizzard. You may have to lead them to the answer.
Questions: 1. Which predator committed this crime? (bobcat) 2. How can you tell it is a cat and not a dog or coyote? (Cats are finicky eaters and
leave the un-tasty parts. Dogs and coyotes tend to eat everything. The gizzard was left behind.)
159 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Station 6: Nest Depredation (Livestock) This should be set up near a feeder or water trough. All the eggs in the nest will be smashed. Questions:
1. Did a predator commit this crime? (no, the eggs are not eaten, just destroyed) 2. What do you think caused this? (cows coming to the feeder or water trough) 3. Name some other ways that a quail nest might accidentally be destroyed.
(horses, four-wheelers, pickups, people stepping on them) 4. What do you think feral hogs might do? (mostly destroy and smash them, but
would also eat the contents)
Station 7: Nest Depredation (Snake) This will be set up in a prickly pear habitat. All the eggs are gone. Only the washers remain. Questions:
1. Why would a quail have chosen this habitat? (protection from predators) 2. Look at the pictures of possible quail predators and name the ones that would
most likely be able to get to this nest? (armadillo and snake) 3. Which one is the best suspect to have committed this crime? (snake, because the
armadillo would have left some shells behind; the snake will swallow the whole egg leaving no trace)
160 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
Station 8: Quail Kill (Avian predator) The quail will be split open and the breast shredded. Questions: 1. Which predator might have committed this crime? (avian predator) 2. How can you tell its not a bobcat or coyote? (a bobcat or coyote would not have
left so much.) 3. What type of predator would be able to tear and shred the quail? (a bird or hawk) 4. What are some of the predator adaptations of the hawk that would allow it to do
this? (Birds have sharp talons and beaks. They do not have teeth so they do not crunch up and eat the bones.)
Station 9: Final Scent Station Identify animals that were here. Which ones are quail predators? Which ones are not? Review why landowners would use a scent station and where it should be placed. For review, have students explain how to set up a scent station.
Review the questions about each station (especially adaptations of predators). Review facts about quail nesting (quail behavioral adaptations).
Demonstrate what adult quail see by laying down on your side, head flat on the ground, and close your bottom eye. If you close your top eye, this is what a baby quail sees. Use this example when talking about the areas of nesting and why the hen moves the babies after hatching.
Review predator/prey relationships and how each one will affect the population of the other.
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161 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
1. List some specific female quail characteristics. __________________________
2. List some specific male quail characteristics. ____________________________ ________________________________________________________________
3. Where do quail prefer to lay their nests? ________________________________
4. How many eggs will a quail typically lay? _______________________________
5. Why does a quail lay so many eggs?___________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
1. Name the predators that have been to this scent station.____________________
2. List some adaptations of at least one predator that visited this scent station. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Student Data Sheet
162 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
1. Quail are precocial. Why does the hen move the babies as soon as they hatch?
2. What is a quails niche? ____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
1. What predator committed this crime? __________________________________
2. List some of the physical adaptations that this predator might have.
1. What predator committed this crime?___________________________________
2. How does the evidence point away from a skunk? ________________________ _________________________________________________________________
1. Which predator might have committed this crime? ________________________
2. Describe the evidence that supports your answer. ________________________ _________________________________________________________________
163 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
1. Did a predator commit this crime? _____________________________________
2. Name two ways that quail nest might accidentally be destroyed. ________ ________________________________________________________________
1. Why would a quail have chosen this habitat? _____________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2. Which predator probably committed this crime? __________________________
3. Describe the evidence that supports your answer. ________________________ ________________________________________________________________
STATION 8 1. Which predator might have committed this crime? ________________________
2. Describe some physical adaptations of this predator that support your answer. ________________________________________________________________
STATION 9 1. Why would a landowner use a scent station? ____________________________ ________________________________________________________________
2. Briefly describe how to set up a scent station. ____________________________ ________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
164 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
165 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
COMMON PREDATORS OF QUAIL
Opossum Opossum with babies
166 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
167 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station
168 Texas Wildlife Association / L.A.N.D.S. Curriculum Quail CSI / Scent Station