Bobwhites went with the farms

Northern Bobwhite.

Northern Bobwhite.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

I remember as a kid often hearing the distinctive call of the Northern Bobwhite – “Bob White! Bob White!’’ But I haven’t it much in recent decades, and have wondered why.

Robert Tougias has explained the disappearance in a charming essay in The (New London) Day, headlined “Recalling when bobwhites flourished here’’ {in Connecticut and by implication across southern New England}: Bobwhites like pastureland and brushland and, Mr. Tougias wrote, “nested within overgrown weedy fencerows and sapling-covered waysides {a lovely word}’’. That explains why I often heard these birds when I was a kid in the ‘50s: There was a working farm across the road from our house and three or four others not far away in what was then a small, semi-rural town. No more. McMansions now loom in some of those former fields, surrounded by second-growth woods.

The exit of the Northern Bobwhites is yet another example of how endlessly humans change nature around them.

As farms have disappeared in New England and their pastures and other fields with them, to be replaced by woods and housing, the numbers of this species in the region have sharply declined, though, Mr. Tougias wrote, you can still find them on Cape Cod “within the pitch pine woodland edges.’’

To read his essay, please hit this link.