08/02/2017 President’s Corner

A quick update to let folks know what is going on with Southern AZ Quail Forever.
Green Up around Patagonia Arizona -Photo Credit Lisa Filigenzi
-Southern AZ including Tucson, Sonoita and Patagonia are as green as I have seen it in the last 15 years.  The news reported July Tucson rainfall is the highest ever recorded for the month of July and second highest for any month.
-The rain bodes well for mearns although we need to keep the rain going a little longer.  AGFD gambels call counts indicate a significant increase in the gambels population.
-Out next scheduled event is a scaled quail covey count northeast of Wilcox.  Wade Zarlingo from AGFD has tentatively scheduled the covey count for 29/30 Sep.  Expect more detail in early Sep.
-AZ dove season opens 1 Sep, desert quail 6 Oct and mearns 8 Dec.  Need to get you and your dogs in shape.
-Habitat projects.  Border 2 Fuels Reduction and Mearns Quail Habitat Improvement Project is tracking.  We are sending a $10,000 check to AGFD which will transfer it to USFS to support this effort.
-We are still considering a mountain mearns project although more study is required before a decision is made.
-We expect an update report on our mearns diet study this fall.
-Sonoita fires.  The area around Sonoita has been hit with several smaller fires.  These are mostly lightning caused and have not had a significant impact on habitat.  Unfortunately there were several homes lost.
-Hog and Adobe Canyon access.  The homeowners and AGFD are still working agreements that will prevent the FS from closing the access.
-Our first fall meeting is planned 16 Nov at Steakout and our banquet is planned 3 Feb at Santa Cruz Fairgrounds.  Let me know if you are interesting in helping on the banquet committee.
QF values your privacy – all member addresses are included bcc.

Zack May
Southern AZ Quail Forever
Chapter President
Cell 520.301.8135

06/15/2017 President’s Corner

The Mowry Fire Burning west of Patagonia
A quick update to let folks know what is going on with the chapter in Southern AZ.  It is toasty warm now but we got a little rain today.
-Highway cleanup.  We had 7 volunteers for our highway cleanup in early May.  Thanks to those that helped out.  Our next cleanup is planned in Nov.
-Scaled Quail covey count.  Wade Zarlingo from AGFD has tentatively scheduled the covey count for 29/30 Sep.  We will get more info out on this later in the summer.
-Habitat projects.  Border 2 Fuels Reduction and Mearns Quail Habitat Improvement Project is tracking.  Tom Sullivan is leading this and presented it to meeting at our last meeting in March.  Tom was able to get the name change to reflect the Mearns portion of the project and Wade Zarlingo is working with the FS also to make sure Mearns habitat is an important part of the project.  We are still working on the White Mountain Mearns project proposal and not ready to commit to it yet.
-Sonoita fires.  The area around Sonoita has been hit with several smaller fires in the last week.  These are mostly lightning caused and to date have not had a significant impact on habitat.
-Hog and Adobe Canyon access.  The homeowners and AGFD are still working agreements that will prevent the FS from closing the access.
-Future AZ quail season dates.  AGFD is proposing to move the start dates for desert quail back two weeks to later Oct starting in 2018.  Mearns start dates and end dates for all species are proposed to stay the same.  There is an opportunity to provide input to AGFD if you have different ideas.  There is no plan for a chapter input but you are free to engage individually.

Zack May
Southern AZ Quail Forever
Chapter President
Cell 520.301.8135

Mearns Quail Study

Mearns Quail


JUSTIFICATION: Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) are typically regarded as an oak woodland species reaching their greatest abundance in Madrean Evergreen woodlands (Brown 1989).  Montezuma quail have also been observed in Arizona in a variety of conifer and mixed conifer habitats on and below the Colorado Plateau at elevations ranging from 1,718m to >3,000m (5,600 – >9,000’) near Young, Canyon Creek, south of Heber, north of Pine, Sipe Wildlife Area, along Black River, near Big Lake, and on Escudilla Mountain (Ligon 1927, Leopold and McCabe 1957, Brown 1989, Babb 2012) despite reports showing that this species is susceptible to heavy snow cover and freezing temperatures (Yaeger 1966, Chavarria et al. 2012). Leopold (1957) thought that severe weather limited the latitude and elevational range of Montezuma quail and he and Bailey (1928) thought these birds undertook seasonal movements to more hospitable elevations to escape the effects of severe weather. However, such a strategy is unavailable to Montezuma quail in the White Mountains where movements of many kilometers would be required to locate areas of moderate temperatures.  Reason dictates that these birds survive either by migrating to lower elevations, shorter distances to favorable exposures, or utilize select microhabitats to mitigate the impacts of high elevations winters.

Incidental observations, however, indicate that Montezuma quail are capable of persisting in good numbers for protracted periods at high elevations.  Pre-settlement conditions on the Colorado Plateau included large trees with a dense grass understory, likely more favorable to Montezuma quail than present conditions after the advent of grazing and fire suppression. (Brown 1994).  It may also be that climate and habitat shifts attendant with recent wildfires such as the Dude, Rodeo/Chediski, and Wallow Fires have restored  Montezuma quail habitat at high elevations as sightings have increased in recent years above and adjacent to the Colorado Plateau (Dan Priest pers. comm., Craig McMullen pers. comm., Bruce Sitko pers. comm., Randy Babb pers. ob.).

If the above hypotheses are correct, and an increase in temperatures and fire occurrences, has resulted in an increase in grassland and savanna habitats at high elevations, Montezuma quail may continue to increase in distribution and numbers.  Understanding the birds’ adaptive behaviors to changing habitats that allow their survival over harsh winters has management implications.  If it can be demonstrated that high elevation populations of Montezuma quail are experiencing increased survival rates due to changing habitat conditions and an inherent adaptive strategy, it stands to reason that additional habitats may provide increased hunter opportunity.



  1. Locate 2 to 10 coveys of Montezuma Quail >2200 m elevation with the aid of pointing dogs.
  2. Capture 20 to 30 Montezuma Quail with a hoop net (Brown 1975) and equip with radio transmitters.
  3. Periodically relocate 20 + radio equipped quail with radio receivers on foot and from aircraft.
  4. Visit relocation sites once a month and measure snow depth, ground temperature and vegetation composition and collect parallel data for paired, random points.
  5. Record the locations and condition of relocated birds.
  6. Compare use vs. availability of habitats and burn severities.
  7. Conduct annual surveys of burned areas above and below the Colorado Plateau for the presence of Montezuma quail using pointing dogs.  Document abundance and distribution of located birds.

STUDY AREA: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest > 2200 m elevation with emphasis on areas burned >2010. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Tonto National Forest burned areas between 1800 and 3000m.

EQUIPMENT:  40-60 Telonics 6.8 g VHF bird transmitters (CHP Systems) at $169.00 ea. Life span of transmitters is 8.5-13.5 months. Minimum of 40 transmitters would be required to last the 3 year span of project.


Project Leader: Randall D. Babb

Project Assistants: Master’s student, Perry Williams and Quail Forever volunteers

Advisor: David E. Brown

Graduate Student Advisor: Dr. John L. Koprowski, University of Arizona

BUDGET: One graduate student, 3 years MS program ca. $63,000.  40 – 60 Telonics bird transmitters $6,760.00- $10,140.00.  Total ca. $69,760.00 – $73,140.00

TIME FRAME: September 15, 2017 – October 15, 2020


Babb, R.B.  2012. An introduction to hunting Arizona’s small game. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix.

Bailey, F. M. 1928. Birds of New Mexico. New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

Brown, D. E. 1989. Arizona game birds. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, and Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix.

Brown, D. E. 1994.  Biotic communities; southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brown, R. L. 1975. Mearns quail capture method. Final Report, Federal-Aid Project W-78-R-15, Work Plan 1, Job 2. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix.

Chavarria, P. M., A. Montoya, N. J. Silvy, and R. R. Lopez. 2012. Impact of inclement weather on overwinter mortality of Montezuma quail in southeast Arizona. Proceedings National Quail Symposium 7:346-351.

Leopold, A. S., and R. A. McCabe. 1957. Natural history of the Montezuma quail in Mexico. Condor 59:3-26.

Ligon, J. S. 1927. Wildlife in New Mexico, its conservation and management. New Mexico State Game Commission, Santa Fe.

Yeager, W. M. 1966. Mearn’s quail management information. Special Report. Federal Aid Project W-53-R-16, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix.

Saw Mill Fire and S.A.Q.F. Update

Fire Crews getting at it


A quick update to chapter members and a request for highway cleanup help.
Saw Mill Fire
Info on the Sawmill Fire which has burned since last Sunday is available at http://wildfiretoday.com/2017/04/28/firefighters-make-progress-on-the-sawmill-fire-in-arizona/ .  The fire has not taken any lives or damaged any buildings but it is still not fully under control.  It appears to be human caused by someone target shooting near Green Valley using an explosive target.  A few pictures are attached courtesy of Nick Besenick.
Saw Mill Fire
Due to the fire we are delaying the highway cleanup originally planned 6 May to 13 May at 7:00 AM.  Please drop me a line if you can assist – we need 6 people.
Wade Zarlingo is working with forest service to get more info on our approved habitat project.  We also expect a proposal for a mearns high elevation study in the next few week.  I will share info on both as we get it.

Zack May
Southern AZ Quail Forever
Chapter President
Cell 520.301.8135

March Update

Windmill -SE Arizona

Southern AZ Quail Forever will hold our last regular membership meeting of the season at Steakout in Sonoita 16 March with social starting at 6:30 and meeting ay 7:00.  The subject of this meeting is the path forward for the chapter.  We have made several changes over the last year and gotten quite a bit done but we want to take a little time to look at ourselves and see what we can do better.  We should have a few potential projects ready for review on habitat and quail science.  We have more money for projects this year but want to make sure we use it towards worthwhile work.

I am sure several of you have already headed north since the end of the season, we want your input also.
Some questions from the board to think about before the meeting.  For those that can’t attend a written response would be appreciated.  It can be anything between you are doing great or you need to start over to individual answers to each question or highlights of issues to work.  For those providing a written response please provide by 15 March.
-Do we need any changes to our mission statement and by/laws?  These are available on our website saquailforever.com
-How are we doing on communication to members?  We typically send 3 emails a month and sometimes more; are we spamming you or is this about right?
-What is your preferred method to receive information; meetings, email, web, Facebook or a combination?
-What would you change with our meetings?  Speakers, location, times, etc.  We are working to upgrade acoustics at Steakout but no promises yet.
-Your thoughts on our habitat and science work?
-Are you getting enough info on chapter financials?
-What would you do different with the banquet?  Banquet committee lessons are pasted below to see what we are already considering
-How are we doing with our interaction with AZGFD?  How about other government agencies?
-What should we do to attract more board members?
-What should we change in our youth program?
-Other input?
We have entered memberships since the banquet – thought you might be interested in the breakdown of our members by state/province:
AK 2
AZ 108
CA 2
CO 1
ID 1
MD 1
MI 3
MN 5
MO 2
MT 9
ND 1
NM 1
ON 1
OR 5
VA 1
VT 2
WA 3
WI 8

Total 157

Meeting Minutes 02/16/2017

Mearns Country
Southern AZ Quail Forever 16 Feb meeting minutes.
Meeting took place at Steakout in Sonoita 16 Jan
We had 36 people attend including three from AZGFD.  Social started at 6:30 with formal meeting start at 7:00.
-Treasurer; $29,359 in bank, no outstanding issues.
-Schedule; schedule for 17-18 hunt season provided and attached below.
-Banquet; Banquet results provided.  Banquet sold out with 177 paid attendees.  Banquet made nearly $21,000 for the chapter.  Lesson have been collected by the committee to improve future banquets.  Will increase attendance cap to 200 next year.  Member attendee (not including spouses/guests) breakdown:  out of state 41, Tucson region 43, Phoenix and northern AZ 14 and southern AZ 17.
-Habitat; Tom provided a slide show of the completed water for wildlife project and discussed potential options for new projects.
-Mearns Quail Study;  Linda provided an update on recent work completed on the diet study.  It is on track.
-Hog and Adobe Canyons update;  Ron Walp provided an update on the status of the potential closure of the roads leading into the canyons from Highway 82.  The Crown C association has elected a new president who has provided the Forest Service a letter indicating they will work sign issues and work an agreement with AZGFD to ensure continued access.  This all looks favorable but it is not done until it is done.
-Youth hunt;  Nick provided update on youth activity planned 4 Mar at Maternity Wells site at Empire Ranch.  Nick Besenick will be soliciting volunteers to help.
-New chapter board member;  Ron Walp was nominated and elected to a new Community Relations board position where he will continue to lead our highway cleanup effort and ensure our out of state members interests are considered.  Congrats to Ron who has worked hard to support this chapter, the wildlife of AZ and pay back for many years of enjoying the outdoors.  We still have other board positions open, please let me know if you are willing to help.
Kirby Bristow Research Biologist from Arizona Game and Fish Department will present Quail Hunting Arizona.  His presentation will provide information on Gambels, Scaled and Mearns Quail including habitat where they are found, what they eat, breeding info and how to best hunt them.  His presentation will be put on our website.
Wade Zarlingo our AZGFD partner discussed the new license requirements for those wishing to train their dogs using pen raised game birds.  The new rules require a new license for every 10 day period and each location you plan to train.  I will forward these rules and a form to use if you wish to challenge AZGFD on this policy.  Wade lives in northern AZ and had a nearly 4 hour drive home after the meeting.  We really appreciate Wade’s support to the chapter.
Mearns Quail Barrel results;  Brittany Oleson our local game warden reviewed the results of totally the inputs from the Mearns quail barrels.  She will get formal results out to us but overall the barrels showed about 1 bird a day decrease compared to last year.  We had several chapter members assist with the count which was done earlier this week.  She also passed out quail wings to those wanting to use them for dog training.
New actions:  none.
Meeting adjourned at 8:35.
Future chapter events;
  • 4 Mar 17 Youth Hunt Sonoita contact Nick Besenick for information or to volunteer
  • 16 Mar 17 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject – Future Direction of Chapter
  • Summer Highway Cleanup TBD
  • Aug/Sep 17 Youth Event TBD
  • Sep 17 TBD Dove Season Opens
  • Sep 17 TBD AZGFD Scaled Quail Flush Count Survey
  • 6 Oct 17 Gambels and Scaled Quail Seasons Open
  • Nov Highway Cleanup TBD
  • 16 Nov 17 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject – Dog and Survival Electronics
  • 8 Dec 17 Mearns’ Quail Season Opens
  • 14 Dec 17 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject TBD
  • 18 Jan 18 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject TBD
  • Feb Highway Cleanup TBD
  • 3 Feb 18 Annual Banquet
  • 11 Feb 18 Quail Seasons Close
  • 15 Feb 18 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject TBD
  • 3 Mar 18 Youth Hunt
  • 15 Mar 18 6:30-9 PM Chapter Meeting Steak Out Sonoita Subject TBD