Importance Of Habitat Diversity In Bobwhite Management

Seasonal usage by bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) of plant foods affected by prescribed fire management was investigated in southwestern Georgia and northern Florida. The early spring diet changed quickly from greenery to grass seeds (particularly Panicum spp.), while fruits from woody plants predominated in summer. The fall-winter diet was dependent on rainfall during flowering and fruiting periods of forbs and on periodic hard mast crops. An inverse relationship existed (P<0.05, r = -0.54) between consumption of legumes (Fabaceae) and oak mast (Quercus spp.); acorns apparently were preferred when both were available. Habitats comprised of (I) annually-burned grass-forb areas for seed production, (2) infrequently-burned rough for fruit supplies, nesting and escape cover, and (3) hardwood coverts for mast production provide for seasonal requirements and help buffer the effects of drought on food supplies.

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