In regions that average little annual precipitation, upland game bird reproduction and recruitment are undeniably linked to the amount and timing of seasonal precipitation. This is not only important for the production of food and hiding cover, but is also important for filling up water sources at key times. With California just overcoming the worst drought on record and the certainty of more dry years in the future, NWTF submitted a proposal to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upland Game Bird Stamp grant program in 2015 to retrofit an old, non-operational, cattle drinker into a safe and reliable year-round water source for wildlife on the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County.
The old concrete tanks used to be fed by an uphill spring and made available for cattle when this area used to be grazed. Now that this area is no longer grazed by cattle, the drinkers were left un-maintained and non-operational. They actually posed a threat to quail chicks and wild turkey poults that could fall in an not escape the concrete walls.Water that was currently coming out of the pipe and being fed by the spring was draining into the soil and not being captured as available free water for wildlife. So the NWTF decided and the Cleveland National Forest decided to help.
A 500 gallon dome top guzzler from Rainmaker Wildlife Products was installed by NWTF staff and volunteers from the San Diego Chapter. The guzzler is fed by a pipe from the spring. With a 500 gallon capacity and a safe ramp that can be traversed by all walks of wildlife, this guzzler should provide a year round water source for wildlife, including wild turkeys, quail, and deer.And lastly, the old concrete tanks were filled with rock so that quail chicks and turkey poults would not be at risk of falling in when trying to find water. This project has great benefit to upland game birds by helping to expand their range in a water-limiting environment. It also has benefit to upland game bird hunters by expanding upland game bird hunting opportunity on public lands.