Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)


The Northern bobwhite, or bobwhite quail, is the most prevalent quail species native to North America. In the fall and winter, quail form loose social groups called “coveys.” A covey will generally contain ten to twelve birds, but can have as many as thirty. The quail gets its name from the two-note call the males emit during mating season, which sounds as if the bird is saying “bob white.” Males have white chins and a white stripe across the eye, while females have rusty yellow faces.

In Missouri, Northern bobwhites are game birds that can be hunted according to state regulations. In the early 20th century, however, quail numbers rapidly dwindled across the state due to habitat loss. The Missouri Conservation Commission initiated several repopulation efforts in the 1940s and 1950s. The Northern bobwhite reintroduction efforts have been highly successful, and the bird became Missouri’s state game bird in 2007.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.012. Bobwhite quail, official state game bird. – The “bobwhite quail” (Colinus virginianus) is selected for and shall be known as the official game bird of the state of Missouri. (L. 2007 H.B. 576)

approved 13 July 2007
effective 28 August 2007


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

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Additional Resources:

See the finding aids for the Archives’s Department of Conservation Collections online here. These will point researchers to historic data and reports on Northern bobwhites.

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website here.


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