By Bob Mione, 2012
The past three years, Kristin and Mark Payne have incubated and brooded BW quail chicks for us at Connemara. When the BW’s were old enough, normally about 6 to 8 weeks old, they would bring them to the Meadow where they were held in our big “acclimation” pen until they were released at the Meadow, Raptor Center, Bill and Fran Woodfin’s farm or within the City of Plano.
This year, the Payne’s did not have enough room to brood out the BW’s, so I reached out to the Chapter for volunteers to “host” the chicks for 5 weeks, until old enough to move to the Meadow. Using funding from a grant from the City of Allen, we built brood pens for the group, delivered the pens along with a “kit” which contained a heat lamp, a feeder and a “waterer”. We also gave them a thermometer since the BW chicks have to be kept around 100 degrees for the first two weeks or so since they don’t have enough feathers.
We wanted to entire process to begin in early Feb so that we could have two “releases” of adult BW’s before it became too hot this Summer. The severe cold spell in Feb delayed our start by about 10 days, but the eggs were finally placed in the incubator and 23 days later, March 21st, they hatched. That Sunday the folks arrived at the Payne’s and picked up their chicks. Most took home 17. Leah took home 46 since she volunteered for two brood pens and our math was not exactly right for dividing up the chicks. (It is very hard to count them accurately when so small, about the size of a big bumble bee.)
Keith Griffin, who works at the Holifield Science Learning Center, has an incubator so we delivered eggs to him and he was able to “live stream” the hatch to many Plano ISD 5th graders as part of their Science classes.
Although somewhat late in the year, I will be discussing with the group the possibility of completing a second round of brooding soon. Plans are for another session in the early Fall for a late Fall/early Winter release.
We are grateful to these Master Naturalists for volunteering:
- Keith Griffin
- Julia Koch (North Texas Chapter)
- Mikel Salsgiver
- Celia Byrnes
- Patrick Pilarski
- Cindy and Paul Napper
- Leah Beck
- Tony Manasseri
BTW: Tony is our official advisor since he has so much experience with raising chickens. Patrick’s son is the one doing the work. Patrick thought it would be a good experience for his son.
From Leah Beck: Photo contributor
We brought home 46 chicks in an Amazon box and split them between 2 brood boxes. I took one picture of a chick in my hand as I transferred him/her to the brooder so we would have a size reference at the end. So far, the chicks spend a lot of time huddled in a group under their heat lamp. The lamp keeps them warm and calm. They have an official feeder and waterer, but since the chicks are small, they struggle a bit to access food and water. So, they can also feed from food on a paper plate and drink from a Tupperware lid.