Colinus virginianus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Northern Bobwhite
Other English Common Names: northern bobwhite
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Colinus virginianus (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 175863)
French Common Names: colin de Virginie
Spanish Common Names: Codorniz Cotuí
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106280
Element Code: ABNLC21020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Galliformes Odontophoridae Colinus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Colinus virginianus
Taxonomic Comments: Some authors include C. nigrogularis in this species (AOU 1983). Formerly in family Phasianidae; placed in family Odontophoridae by AOU (1997).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 27Mar2014
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Despite its decline, this bird still numbers in the hundreds of thousands if not millions. Its population status should continue to be monitored, however, with appropriate steps taken to prevent any further decline in population numbers.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (06May2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arizona (S1), Arkansas (S5), Colorado (S4), Connecticut (S4), Delaware (S4), District of Columbia (S1), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5B), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S2), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SU), Mississippi (S3S4), Missouri (S5), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (S5), New Hampshire (SX), New Jersey (S5B,S5N), New Mexico (S5B,S5N), New York (S4), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (S1), Rhode Island (S4B,S4N), South Carolina (S4), South Dakota (S4), Tennessee (S2S3), Texas (S4B), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (S5), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (S3B,S3N), Wisconsin (S2S3B), Wyoming (S1)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Ontario (S1)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Subspecies ridgwayi of Arizona and Sonora is listed by USFWS as Endangered.
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (14Jul2005)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (03May2013)
Comments on COSEWIC: Owing to habitat loss, this grassland bird's population has declined dramatically over historical levels and shows no sign of recovery. There is only one viable population remaining in Canada, located on Walpole Island, Ontario. The status of this species is complicated by the presence of introduced pen-reared birds whose genetic composition is believed to pose a threat to the remaining native population.
Designated Endangered in April 1994. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2003 and May 2013.

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: RESIDENT: southeastern Wyoming to southern Ontario and New England, south through the central and eastern U.S. to Guatemala and Florida; also in southeastern Arizona (reintroduction in progress) and eastern Sonora (AOU 1998, Brennan 1999). INTRODUCED: established in Washington, Oregon, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, the Bahamas, and New Zealand (AOU 1998).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Birdlife International (2014) estimates the breeding extent of the Northern Bobwhite at 4.23 million square kilometers. However, the actual occupancy is probably much less than this with estimates of as high as 80% decline in the last 45 years (National Audubon Society, 2014). Assuming a similar decline in occupany, the area of occupancy would still be about 850,000 square kilometers, which easily exceeds the category of greater than 20,000 square kilometers.

Number of Occurrences: 21 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Present distribution in U.S. has become highly fragmented because of haitat loss, silviculture, and lack of prescribed fire. However, its world-wide distribution has expanded as a result of introduction by humans for hunting (Brennan, 1999).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: This population size is based on an estimate on the National Audubon Society (2014) website is 5.5 million individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few to very many (4 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: With a recent estimate of over 5.5 million individuals by National Audubon Society (2014), there are obviously at least a few good EOs remaining and probably even very many but these EOs may be quite fragmented with little genetic flow between the good EOs. This EO estimate does not include those birds released, breeding, and residing in hunting areas.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: HABITAT CHANGE/FRAGMENTATION: Principal threat appears to be habitat loss and fragmentation associated with changing land use, particularly clean farming techniques, single crop production, plantation forestry, fire suppression, replacement of native grass pasture with Tall Fescue, and over-grazing by cattle (Barnes et al. 1995, Brennan 1991, Brennan 1999, Brennan et al. 1998, Dumke 1982 cited in Page and Austen 1994, Engstrom et al. 1984, Klimstra and Scott 1957, Lee and Brennan 1994, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984, Roseberry et al. 1979, Vance 1976). Due principally to habitat alteration, only about 24% of the state of Illinois contains suitable habitat at the landscape level (Roseberry and Sudkamp 1998). Browsing by White-tailed Deer (ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS) reduces vegetative cover and seed production of important food plants (Stokes et al. 1994). RED IMPORTED FIRE ANTS: In the southern portion of the range, the Red Imported Fire Ant (SOLENOPSIS INVICTA) has been implicated in the Northern Bobwhite decline. Experimental studies have shown that exposure to Red Imported Fire Ants can alter chick behavior, and reduce chick biomass and survival (Giuliano et al. 1996, Mueller et al. 1999, Pederson et al. 1996). In Texas, examination of CBC data indicated a decline in abundance following Red Imported Fire Ant infestation (Allen et al. 1995). In addition to direct effects, Red Imported Fire Ants may indirectly impact bobwhites by reducing the abundance and diversity of the native invertebrate fauna (Porter and Savignano 1990). The impact of Red Imported Fire Ants is not readily separated from habitat degradation because Red Imported Fire Ant populations respond favorably to such disturbances as overgrazing which, in itself, negatively impacts bobwhite populations. The negative impacts of Red Imported Fire Ants may be limited to polygyne (multiple queen) colonies which attain much higher densities than monogyne (single queen) colonies (L. Brennan, pers. comm.). PREDATION: Predation is an important source of mortality, particularly during the breeding season (Burger et al. 1995a, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984, Stoddard 1931 cited in Brennan 1999). Nearly every opportunistic terrestrial predator within the range of the bobwhite will prey on eggs, young or adults (Brennan 1999). The primary known mammalian predators include Raccoon (PROCYON LOTOR), Virginia Opossum (DIDELPHIS VIRGINIANUS), Striped Skunk (MEPHITIS MEPHITIS), Red Fox (VULPES VULPES), and Coyote (CANIS LATRANS; Brennan 1999, Lehmann 1946). Other important predators include birds, snakes, and domestic cats and dogs (Brennan 1999, Burger et al. 1995a, Klimstra and Scott 1957, Page and Austen 1994, Robinette and Doerr 1993). OTHER: Large flocks of wintering Canada Geese (BRANTA CANADENSIS) can deplete all waste grain from crop fields, thereby eliminating an important food source (Fernald 1977 cited in Roseberry and Klimstra 1984). In northern portions of the range, prolonged cold weather and/or heavy snow cover can reduce winter survival (Page and Austen 1994, Robel and Kemp 1997, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984). Excessive rainfall and drought can also limit populations (Brennan 1999). Ingestion of spent lead shot is an insignificant threat (Best et al. 1992).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: The latest North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate that, from 2002-20012, populations underwent a significant rangewide decline of -4.0%/year, which would equate to a 34% decline over the last 10 years. Significant declines occurred in nearly every state within their geographic range. The rate of decline has increased through time. Rangewide, the population declined at a statistically insignificant rate of -0.6%/year from 1966-1979, but declined significantly at a rate of -3.5%/year from 1980-1998 (Sauer et al. 1999). Similarly, Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data indicate a rangewide decline of -2.6%/year from 1959-1988. Declines are statistically significant in nearly every state (Sauer et al. 1996). The species has been nearly extirpated from Ontario, Canada (Page and Austen 1994).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Long-term Trend Comments: The latest North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicates that from 1966 to 2012, populations have undergone a 4.2%/year decline, which is almost a 85% decline during that time period. (Sauer, et. al. 2014).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable to not intrinsically vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Northern Bobwhite is not intrinsically vulnerable if its required habitat is maintained and wildlife corridors exist to permit gene flow among populations.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: The Northern Bobwhite requires early successional habitats but it can utilize many vegetational types (Brennan, 1999).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Need assessment of population status of bobwhite subspecies in Mexico (Brennan, 1999)

Protection Needs: Major protection need is for protection of existing high quality habitat for this species as well as restoration of habitat when it does not conflict with other higher priority needs.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) RESIDENT: southeastern Wyoming to southern Ontario and New England, south through the central and eastern U.S. to Guatemala and Florida; also in southeastern Arizona (reintroduction in progress) and eastern Sonora (AOU 1998, Brennan 1999). INTRODUCED: established in Washington, Oregon, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, the Bahamas, and New Zealand (AOU 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IDexotic, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MTexotic, NC, NE, NHextirpated, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, ORexotic, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VTexotic, WAexotic, WI, WV, WY
Canada BCexotic, ON

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Pima (04019)
NE Boyd (31015), Brown (31017), Cherry (31031), Custer (31041), Hamilton (31081), Holt (31089), Keya Paha (31103), Lancaster (31109), Loup (31115), Pawnee (31133), Pierce (31139), Platte (31141), Polk (31143), Saline (31151), Seward (31159), Wayne (31179), York (31185)
PA Butler (42019), Chester (42029), Crawford (42039), Lebanon (42075)
WI Columbia (55021), Dane (55025), Dunn (55033), Green (55045), Marquette (55077), Rock (55105), Sauk (55111)
WY Goshen (56015), Laramie (56021)*, Park (56029), Platte (56031)*, Teton (56039)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+
04 Upper Fox (04030201)+
05 French (05010004)+, Connoquenessing (05030105)+
07 Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)+, Sugar (07090004)+
10 Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Keya Paha (10150006)+, Lower Niobrara (10150007)+, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Middle North Platte-Scotts Bluff (10180009)+, Lower Laramie (10180011)+*, Horse (10180012)+*, Upper Lodgepole (10190015)+*, Sidney Draw (10190017)+*, Middle Platte-Prairie (10200103)+, Salt (10200203)+, Lower Middle Loup (10210003)+, Calamus (10210008)+, Loup (10210009)+, Upper Elkhorn (10220001)+, North Fork Elkhorn (10220002)+, South Fork Big Nemaha (10240007)+, Big Nemaha (10240008)+, Upper Big Blue (10270201)+, Middle Big Blue (10270202)+, West Fork Big Blue (10270203)+
15 Brawley Wash (15050304)+, Rio De La Concepcion (15080200)+
17 Snake headwaters (17040101)+, Gros Ventre (17040102)+, Greys-Hobock (17040103)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A bird (quail).
Reproduction Comments: Eggs laid as early as April in the south, but not until May in the north. Renests as late as September, or even October in south Texas. Clutch size averages 12-14 eggs and ranges from 7-28 eggs. Requires approximately 18 days to complete a clutch. Incubation, by one or both sexes, begins after the last egg is laid and averages 23 days. Hatching is synchronous. One or both sexes brood the young for the first two weeks of life. Females can produce up to three broods per season. Young are capable of flight about two weeks after hatching and both sexes are capable of breeding in the first year after hatching (Brennan 1999). Above average rainfall and cooler temperatures, particularly in arid regions, increases reproductive success (Kiel 1976, Lehmann 1953).
Ecology Comments: POPULATION PARAMETERS: Incurs high annual mortality resulting in a short life span and rapid population turnover (Brennan 1999). Of 1156 birds banded, only one was recovered 5 years after banding (Marsden and Baskett 1958). Oldest known wild bird lived 6 years, 5 months (Marsden 1961); however, most individuals live less than one year (Brennan 1999). Adult females suffer higher mortality than adult males, but the mortality rate of young is not significantly different from adults (Burger et al. 1995a, Pollock et al. 1989). In Missouri, mortality was higher from fall to spring than from spring to fall (Burger et al. 1995a). In North Carolina, winter survivorship and summer population densities were higher in non-hunted areas than hunted areas (Robinette and Doerr 1993). Hunter harvest may be additive to natural mortality (Pollock et al. 1989, Robinette and Doerr 1993, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984), especially during the latter part of the hunting season (L. Brennan, pers. comm.). On average, annual mortality is about 70% and net production is 2.33 juveniles per adult in southern portions of the range; whereas in northern areas, annual mortality is about 80% and net production is approximately 4 juveniles per adult (Guthery 1997). Sex ratios are male biased, possibly due, in part, to greater mortality incurred by adult females (Burger et al. 1995a, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984).

DENSITY/HOME RANGE: Although densities of 2.2 birds/ha are common on managed areas, densities as high as 6.6-7.6 birds/ha have been observed on private hunting plantations in the southeastern U.S. pinelands and on Texas coastal rangelands, respectively (Brennan 1999). Densities on areas not managed for quail range from 0.14-0.65 birds/ha (Roseberry and Klimstra 1984). Size of home range varies with habitat conditions and reproductive status (Brennan 1999). In Mississippi, home ranges of males ranged from 9.9-282 hectares (Lee 1994 cited in Brennan 1999) and those of females ranged from 11.2-44.1 hectares (Manley 1994 cited in Brennan 1999). In north Florida, home ranges of males and females ranged from 3.4-47.7 hectares (mean = 16.0; DeVos and Mueller 1993). On two study sites in Kansas, female home range size averaged 54 hectares and 75 hectares, whereas male home range size averaged 65 hectares and 103 hectares (Taylor et al. 1999a). In Texas, home ranges of females averaged 0.7 hectares and 1.4 hectares with prefledging and postfledging broods, respectively (Taylor and Guthery 1994).

AGGREGATIONS: Outside the breeding season Northern Bobwhites are gregarious and form coveys, generally consisting of 10-15 birds. Coveys occupy 3.3-20 hectares of habitat. Birds in a covey roost together overnight in a circle, facing out, as a means of conserving heat (Johnsgard 1973).

PARASITES: Internal parasites include helminths and nematodes; external parasites include lice, ticks, mites, and fleas. Known diseases include avian pox, ulcerative enteritis, quail bronchitis, and histomoniasis (Brennan 1999). Parasite loads and the number of species of endoparasites infecting quail tends to be higher in areas of relatively high quail densities (Dimmick 1992 cited in Brennan 1999).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Typically sedentary, year-round residents, although seasonal movements have been observed between low-elevation wintering habitat and high-elevation breeding habitat in the Smoky Mountains of the southeastern U.S. (Johnsgard 1973, Brennan 1999).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Inhabits a wide variety of vegetation types, particularly early successional stages. Occurs in croplands, grasslands, pastures, fallow fields, grass-brush rangelands, open pinelands, open mixed pine-hardwood forests, and habitat mosaics (Brennan 1999). In the Midwest and Northeast, associated principally with heterogeneous, patchy landscapes comprised of moderate amounts of row crops and grasslands and abundant woody edge (Burger and Linduska 1967, Roseberry and Sudkamp 1998). Open canopy (<50%) pinelands and mixed pine-hardwood forests that have diverse groundcover vegetation, provide ideal habitat in the south (Brennan 1999, DeVos and Mueller 1993). In Texas rangelands, prefers areas containing the most bare ground, least grass cover, and most tall forbs (Hammerquist-Wilson and Crawford 1981). In the Oklahoma panhandle, prefers wooded riparian habitats (Schemnitz 1964). Selects more open, taller vegetation types than Scaled Quail (CALLIPEPLA SQUAMATA) in areas of sympatry in Texas (Reid et al. 1979). Nests on the ground, in a scrape lined with grasses and/or other dead vegetation, typically within standing herbaceous vegetation within 15-20 m of openings such as roads or fields. Grasses are typically woven over the top of the nest to conceal it (Brennan 1999).
Adult Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Forages individually or in groups (coveys) by picking food items off the ground or from vegetation that can be reached from the ground. Scratches through leaf litter and dry, dead vegetation. Known to eats seeds of at least 650 plant species, including agricultural crops. Important plant foods include legumes, grasses, pine and oak mast, and fruits. Also consumes buds, tender leaves, and a wide variety of arthropods. Arthropods are especially important (>80%) in the diet of chicks. Although surface water is used when available, it is not necessary for survival or successful reproduction (Brennan 1999).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Phenology Comments: Peaks in feeding activity in early morning and in late afternoon until dark (Johnsgard 1973).
Length: 25 centimeters
Weight: 178 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: The most popular game bird in the U.S., with millions harvested each year.
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) indicate a significant rangewide population decline during the last 30 years. Declines are thought to be the result of habitat loss and fragmentation associated with changing land use, particularly clean farming techniques, single crop production, plantation forestry, fire suppression, replacement of native-grass pasture with Tall Fescue (FESTUCA ARUNDINACEA), and over-grazing by cattle. In addition, the Red Imported Fire Ant (SOLENOPSIS INVICTA) has been implicated as a causative agent of the decline where sympatric with Northern Bobwhites. In agricultural landscapes, land managers should strive to create a heterogeneous environment consisting of moderate amounts of row crops and grasslands and abundant woody edge. On western rangelands, habitat can be optimized by varying cattle density (and thus grazing intensity) with site productivity. Frequent prescribed fire is the best management tool in the southeastern pinelands. Monitoring methods include whistle counts of calling males, line transects, and mark-recapture sampling.
Restoration Potential: Because the species responds well to management, restoration potential is good (Page and Austen 1994). For example, In Arkansas, breeding birds were significantly more abundant in forested stands after the canopy was opened by thinning and prescribed fire, than in untreated stands (Wilson et al. 1995). The number of coveys increased from 16 to 80 in four years following management (strip discing) on a 3400-acre (1376 ha) farm in Tippah County, Mississippi (Brennan 1993). The restoration potential may remain unrealized in agricultural states such as Illinois, however, because present-day land use, which is not beneficial to quail, is unlikely to change (Roseberry and Sudkamp 1998).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Early-successional habitats are considered optimum in forested habitats (Ellis et al. 1969, Roseberry et al. 1979). In agricultural regions, heterogeneous landscapes consisting of moderate amounts of row crops and grasslands, along with abundant woody edge provide optimum habitat (Roseberry and Sudkamp 1998). Optimum habitat has been described as consisting of 30-40% grassland, 40-60% cropland, 5-20% brushy cover, and 5-40% woodland cover (Johnsgard 1973). On western rangelands, site productivity influences the appropriateness of successional stage. Late successional stages provide the best habitat on sites with low productivity, whereas early successional stages provide the best habitat on site with high productivity (Guthery 1997). Frequent habitat disturbance (e.g., soil disturbance, fire) is essential to prevent loss of preferred early-successional habitats. Although there are no definitive data on optimum size of an area needed to support Northern Bobwhites in the long term, researchers suspect that 202-404 hectares (500-1000 acres) are required (L. Brennan, pers. comm.).
Management Requirements: On western rangelands, habitat can be optimized by varying cattle density (and thus grazing intensity) with site productivity (Guthery 1997). More productive sites can be grazed more heavily than less productive sites as this provides the early successional vegetative stage preferred (Spears et al. 1993). On less productive sites, however, later successional stages should be maintained by relatively light continuous grazing or rotational grazing (Campbell-Kissock et al. 1984, Campbell-Kissock et al. 1985). Heavily grazed pastures in the Midwest and the Southeast are of no use to quail (Klimstra and Scott 1957, Murray 1958, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984). In the Midwest and Northeast, populations respond well to increased edge and early successional habitats (Burger and Linduska 1967, Ellis et al. 1969, Hanson and Miller 1961). Prescribed fire is also an important management tool, especially in the southeast (Brennan et al. 1995, Gutierrez and Brennan 1998). Numbers of individuals are higher in areas managed by fire than those not burned (Brennan 1991, Wilson et al. 1995). Prescribed fire increases arthropod abundance and facilitates travel of chicks through groundcover vegetation (Hurst 1972). Fire also reduces hardwood encroachment and promotes the sun-loving groundcover plant species essential for food and cover (Platt et al. 1988, Waldrop et al. 1992). Because Northern Bobwhites respond favorably to fire, habitat management for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (PICOIDES BOREALIS) is compatible with quail management (Brennan 1991, Brennan and Fuller 1993). The suitability of cropfields as habitat can be improved by providing adjacent strips of early-successional herbaceous vegetation (Palmer et al. 1998, Puckett et al. 1995). Retaining thorny brush on grazed areas provides protection for nesting birds (Bareiss et al. 1986). Density can be enhanced by reductions in Red Imported Fire Ant density (Allen et al. 1995). Strip discing increases arthropod biomass during quail egg laying and brood-rearing periods (Manley et al. 1994), and populations respond positively to strip discing (Brennan 1993). Agricultural and silvicultural practices that retain streamside vegetation also benefit this species (Keller et al. 1993). In the northern portion of the range, supplemental food can increase winter survivorship during extreme winter weather (Robel and Kemp 1997, Townsend et al. 1999). Food plots, however, do not increase population size (Guthery 1997). Provision of supplemental water is not necessary as bobwhites are capable of obtaining ample water from other sources (Guthery 1999, Guthery and Koerth 1992). Taking erodible farm land out of production through enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can provide suitable quail habitat (Burger et al. 1990, Burger et al. 1995b, Stauffer et al. 1990, Taylor et al. 1999a, 1999b). However, the full potential of the CRP in improving habitat for quail in not always realized. Tall Fescue (FESTUCA ARUNDINACEA), which is unsuitable for bobwhite as cover or food (Barnes et al. 1995), is the dominant grass species seeded into CRP lands (Osborn et al. 1992 cited in Washburn et al. 2000). Mowing and/or haying during the nesting season, as well as tree establishment, also reduce the effectiveness of the CRP in providing quail habitat (Hays and Farmer 1990, Stauffer et al. 1990). Tall Fescue dominance can be reduced by discing and herbicide application, or burning and herbicide application followed by establishment of native warm-season grasses (Madison et al. 1995, Washburn et al. 2000). In his summary paper, Guthery (1997) posits the common sense tenet that populations can be maximized when land managers make all points within an area usable by quail at all times.
Monitoring Requirements: Various techniques are used to estimate abundance, each with its own inherent bias. Whistle counts are used during summer or fall to estimate the size of the male population (Norton et al. 1961, Rosene 1957). Whistle counts are relatively inexpensive and can be completed in a relatively short period of time. However, the relationship between call counts and population size is unknown (Coody 1991). The standard call count technique can be improved by utilizing taped calls of the female. Significantly more males were detected after playing taped calls of females than detected using the standard call count technique (Coody 1991). Population size can also be estimated by line transect sampling (Guthery 1988). However, this technique is unsatisfactory in areas with low quail densities (Kuvlesky et al. 1989 cited in Janvrin et al. 1991). In addition, some birds do not flush, even when stepped over, and others avoid detection by cryptically moving away from the transect line. These behaviors violate certain assumptions of the line transect method (Janvrin et al. 1991). Drive counts, in which researchers, spaced about 10 meters apart, walk across an area in parallel lines, are also used to estimate quail populations (Janvrin et al. 1991, Roseberry and Klimstra 1984). In a study of the efficacy of drive counts using radio-telemetered birds, 56% of individuals and 61% of coveys were detected during drive counts. The authors of this study recommend using the detection rate of individuals rather than coveys because partial covey flushes produce an underestimation of covey size which results in an underestimation of population size. Furthermore, they suggest conducting at least three drive counts to account for temporal variation in the number of quail inhabiting an area (Janvrin et al. 1991). Mark-recapture techniques (e.g., banding) can also be used to monitor and assess populations. These techniques not only provide data on abundance, but also survival and demography (L. Brennan, pers. comm.).
Management Research Needs: Despite being one of the most intensively studied and managed bird species in the world (Scott 1985), many management-related questions remain. Of particular importance are studies that rigorously test influences of various forms of habitat management, hunting pressure, grazing, agriculture, silviculture, predation, interspecific competition, variations in weather, pesticide application, and release of captive-raised stock. Additional research is needed to determine causes of the rangewide population declines and ways of reversing them (Brennan 1999).
Biological Research Needs: Need a comprehensive systematic study of subspecies, as well as studies of genetic variation at landscape, regional, and local scales; biological mechanisms that govern movements and spacing; regional variations in vocalizations; and sociobiology (Brennan 1999).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Quail

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single observations outside the normal breeding distribution.

If a population moves between a breeding area and a widely separate nonbreeding area, consider creating a separate breeding and nonbreeding occurrences.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of even relatively sedentary birds such as quail make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for quail; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Summer ranges of California Quail are larger and more scattered than winter ranges; home ranges of laying females in Oregon ranged from 6 to 77 hectares (Calkins et al. 1999). Home ranges of Bobwhites vary tremendously; from about 4 to about 100 hectares, up to 282 hectares in low quality habitat (Taylor et al. 1999a, Lee 1994, Manley 1994, DeVos and Mueller 1993). Montezuma Quail have very small home ranges; pairs are often found in the same areas (50 square meters) year after year; covey home ranges after breeding are about 1-2 hectares (Bishop 1964, Stromberg 2000). Mountain Quail relatively sedentary during breeding season, but can travel at least 25 kilometers to avoid snow in winter (Gutierrez and Delehanty 1999).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 6 hectares.
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Winter range
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical) at least several kilometers outside their breeding area; and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 10 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is an arbitrary value intended to result in occurrences of reasonable geographic scope. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Winter ranges of California Quail are smaller than summer ranges (Calkins et al. 1999). Mountain Quail relatively sedentary during breeding season, but can travel at least 25 kilometers to avoid snow in winter (Gutierrez and Delehanty 1999).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a relatively small home range of 6 hectares.
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single observations outside the normal breeding distribution.

If a population moves between a breeding area and a widely separate nonbreeding area, consider creating a separate breeding and nonbreeding occurrences.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of even relatively sedentary birds such as quail make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for quail; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 27Mar2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: PALIS, J. (Revised by Jue, Dean K. in 2014-03-27)
Management Information Edition Date: 28Jun2000
Management Information Edition Author: PALIS, J: REVISIONS BY S. CANNINGS
Management Information Acknowledgments: The author thanks Ann Bruce and Leonard Brennan for sharing literature housed in the Tall Timbers Research Station library and Leonard Brennan for reviewing an earlier draft of this document. Support for the preparation of this abstract was provided by the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center through The Nature Conservancy's Tennessee Field Office and Wings of the Americas program.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 10Feb1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G. AND J. PALIS

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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