Training Northern Bobwhite to Increase Predator Recognition and Response
Dale A Zaborowski
University of West Georgia, 2005
Poor antipredator skills are believed to be responsible for the low survival of pen raised northern bobwhites ( Colinus virginianus ) when released into the wild. While antipredator skills are innate, early exposure to the responses of conspecifics and individual experience when encountering a predator may hone reaction times and promote proper responses. This study was designed to assess the effectiveness of a program to train pen raised northern bobwhites to increase their recognition and response to a predatory threat. A taxidermy mount of a coyote ( Canis latrans ) on a cart was presented to coveys of bobwhite, followed immediately by a chase. The coveys that received the chase moved farther away from the model when seeing it again than those that were not chased or the control coveys that were presented an empty cart. The trained birds also took longer to return to normal or relaxed behavior. In addition, as the trials continued the trained birds appeared to be reluctant to go to the side of the experimental arena of the coyote track. Also, the differences in response of the birds to the first encounter with the model compared to the birds that were presented an empty cart suggest an innate recognition of the coyote mount as a threat.
Hilltop Preference of Bobwhite Quail
Hanson, A and D. Zaborowski
Georgia Journal of Science, Vol. 59, 2001, No. 1
Pen-raised bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) were marked and released in two fields of varying topography in southeastern Bartow County, GA during Jan. and Feb. of 1995. The Birds were placed in differing locations of each field and gun dogs were used to locate them after release. The quail showed a highly significant preference for the "military crest" or the upper one-third portion of a hill. A preference for the military crest would appear to maximize the ability to escape from a predator.
Habitat Utilization and Distribution of Bobwhite Quail
Hanson, A and D. Zaborowski
Kennesaw State University, 1995
The eastern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus virginianus) occurs naturally throughout the southeastern United States. The Bobwhite is a social bird found living in groups called "coveys" of 10 to 15 individuals. The preferred habitat of the bird is in fallow fields, at the edge of agricultural fields and forest openings. A steady decline in population has occurred over the last 100 years due to habitat loss, changes in farming practices and the use of pesticides. This study looked at where C. virginianus would be found in a field and if smaller groups would join together to form larger groups. Also, in a previous study some evidence indicated that the quail preferred the top of a hill instead of low areas. Our predictions were that the birds would form larger coveys and would be found on hilltops. The quail used were pen raised, flight-conditioned birds that are bred for release in the wild. The experiment was conducted on two fields in the Allatoona Wildlife Management Area, Bartow County, GA. In each field, 4 release points were marked where a group of 4 birds were released at each point every week. The release points varied in topography and ground cover. The smaller field (approx. 4 hectares) had release points 75 to 100 meters apart, roughly one flight distance. The larger field (approx. 16 hectares) had the release points 2-4 flight distances apart, or 200-300 meters. Four birds were liberated at each release point in both fields each week for 4 weeks. A total of 128 quail were released. The birds were marked with paint to allow for identification by week. The day after release, gun dogs were used to locate the birds. Their number per group, location and identification of release was recorded. On the larger field, only a total of 5 live birds were found and 4 others killed by predators. No groups larger than 3 were found on the larger field. The smaller field had a total of 25 birds found alive and 6 predator kills were recorded. The birds of the smaller field had formed larger coveys, with the second week release having all grouping together. Of all the birds found on both fields, only 3 were not associated with the hilltop. It appears that the birds must be released close enough for a single flight to form a covey or they must be within calling distance. The individuals have the advantage in the protection from predation as well. As for the hilltop placement, it might be related to detecting and eluding an approaching predator, or some other factor, which could be determined with further study.