Northern bobwhite habitat use and nesting ecology in a forest- and agriculture-dominated system
Parnell, Ira Byrd
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Changes in land use that reduce habitat availability and quality for Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are thought to be the major cause of Southeastern bobwhite population declines. Increased conversion of open habitats to densely stocked pine plantations (Pinus spp.) has contributed to this habitat loss. We examined the habitat use and nesting ecology of a bobwhite population in the upper coastal plain of Georgia to determine what role pine plantations, including those established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), have within bobwhite habitat use and nesting ecology. Using radio-telemetry, we monitored 164 radio-marked bobwhites from 1997-2000 and documented habitat use, nest locations and fates, habitat surrounding nests, and adult mortality locations. Our results suggest that recommendations of the 1996 Farm Bill to thin and create openings within established CRP pine stands would potentially increase habitat for bobwhites within this landscape.