A familiar sight and sound is returning to a farm in Putnam County through efforts of three Spring Valley men raising quail.
In January, former Spring Valley mayor Cliff Banks, alderman Mark Actis and Spring Valley resident Gray Casper started raising quail on farmland in Putnam County. Banks owns 304 acres of the land where he raises and releases the birds into the wild.
About three weeks ago, the men released 165 quail onto the property. Banks said the birds can be seen throughout the day running across the lane between the corn and wheat fields to feed and shade themselves. The farmers have reported seeing the birds in their backyard at night, he said.
“Everything’s been going well so far,” said Banks.
Banks said the birds have been sticking around and have been flying and feeding OK. He also believes area predators have been leaving them alone.
“That means we are doing something right,” he said.
Banks said they chose the area because quail used to be abundant on the land. In the past years, the population has fallen due to farming and other environmental factors, said Banks.
Banks said there used to be lots of quail in his former hometown in southern Illinois and when he moved to Spring Valley he missed the “whistle” or bird call he use to hear. He said he wanted to bring that back to the area.
The men continue to raise more birds and will have another 200 ready to release in a few weeks, including 50 he wants to release on property in Streator. Banks said he had around 80 eggs that hatched this week and several others that would soon be ready to learn how to fly.