Rearing and release techniques for captive northern bobwhite quail
Cass, Randy Dale
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Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations have declined over the past 5 decades in the southeastern United States due to changes in agricultural and forestry practices, increases in mammalian and avian predator populations, acceleration in fire suppression, and increases in human populations. Because of these declines, many landowners and plantation owners supplement wild bobwhite populations using captive pen-reared bobwhites. Restoration efforts using pen-reared bobwhites have often resulted in low returns and little recruitment. The use of captive wild-strain parent-reared bobwhite chicks has not been examined for supplementation or restoration purposes. I estimated survival of parent-reared bobwhites released at 5 weeks of age and return rates for pen-reared and parent-reared bobwhites. I also compared breeding season demographics among wild-strain fall release, parent-reared, and wild bobwhites. Only parent-reared chicks provided enough recaptures to estimate survival therefore no survival comparisons could be determined for the pen-reared. Wild and fall release bobwhites nested at similar rates and parent-reared and wild bobwhites had similar chick survival. My results show that parent-rearing of bobwhites in captivity show promise as a restoration technique.