MEDICINE PARK, Okla. (KFOR) — As Executive Director of the Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center, Doug Kemper’s rounds take him through 8 acres of botanical gardens and dozens of tanks supporting all kinds of native fish, but a small enclosure toward the back of this preserve might be the most relaxing for him.
“It’s a beautiful spot,” he says.
Starting in early December, he imported nearly 200 North American Bob White Quail under protective netting.
“These birds come from the Triple 7 Quail Farm out of Indiahoma,” he explains.
A couple of weeks after getting used to their new home, he opened his newest attraction: The Quail Encounter.
“The whole purpose,” says Doug, “is to get children of all ages to have an opportunity to feed the quail and get real close, and see what beautiful birds they really are.”
His birds have everything they need in here: a regular supply of food, shelter from wind and rain, and treats in the form of minced celery.
Kemper says, “They love all kinds of greens.”
The quail most Oklahomans are used to scurry from sight way before anyone can get this close, but Doug figured these birds might get used to some human interaction.
He says, “They’re doing great.”
If you sit still, they come pretty close.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “They want to come and see what you’re doing.”
Quail communicate between themselves constantly.
In spring, the males make a distinctive mating call.
Kemper likes to linger a little while to listen.
He might bring in a few extra cups of celery and just sort of join the covey.
“It’s very peaceful,” he says.
His Quail Encounter is the wild Oklahoma version of feeding pigeons in the park.
He’s hoping these birds make more friends in 2020.
The Medicine Park Aquarium opened in 2017.
To learn more about the facility, click here.