Who Let the Quail Out?
Dundee High School Partners With Local Engine Plant to Release Bobwhite Quail
October 6, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – More than 400 pen-raised northern bobwhite quail moved to their new home, 132 acres of authentic Michigan prairie grassland surrounding the FCA US LLC Dundee Engine Plant in Dundee, Michigan, on Oct. 5. The quail were released by approximately 115 students from Dundee High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter as part of an effort to increase the birds’ population.
Planted in 2006, the native Michigan prairie grass at the Dundee Engine Plant has matured enough to be an ideal wildlife habitat for the northern bobwhite quail.
“When the company planted the grassland on this property nearly 10 years ago, they knew it would take time for the natural biodiversity to flourish,” said Tania Pratnicki Young, plant manager at Dundee Engine Plant. “Now that the habitat is well established, we are happy to welcome the 400 new members to our family and to continue working with the local high school to support the quail as they settle in to their new home.”
The bobwhite is a small bird that stands around 9-12 inches tall and weighs an average of six ounces. Known for its distinctive “bob-white” whistle and ground-dwelling behavior, the quail have been in sharp decline since the 1970s – likely owing to habitat loss and changes in agriculture.
The plant and FFA chapter will let the quail adjust to native seeds and insects on the property for two to four weeks. Then, volunteers from the plant will install feeders to supplement their diet.
“When we embarked on this project to help restore bobwhites in Michigan, we wanted to find a local property that could offer them the best ecosystem where they could thrive and multiply,” said Tom Stahl, agriculture teacher at Dundee High School. “We approached representatives at the Dundee Engine Plant and they were quick to support our students’ learning opportunity and to offer the feed and feeders to help condition the birds to their new environments.”
Dundee High School students and FCA US employees will monitor and support the four-year project.
In May 2015, Dundee Engine was awarded silver status for its results in implementing World Class Manufacturing (WCM). WCM is a methodology that focuses on reducing waste, increasing productivity, and improving quality and safety in a systematic and organized way. The bobwhite quail reintroduction supports the “Environment” pillar, one of 10 technical pillars that form the foundation of WCM.