Early Summer Diet of Male Northern Bobwhite in the North Carolina Sandhills

Crops from adult male northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) were collected May-July 1985 (N = 43) and April-June 1986 (N = 45). Woody plant, legume, and grass seeds accounted for >90% of the total crop volume in both years, but the relative proportions of seed types varied significantly (X2 = 66.38, P <0.005) between years. This was partly due to differences in plant fruiting chronology and seed availability during sample periods, as rye (Secale cereale) was unavailable to most quail collected in 1986. Rye, red bay (Persea borbonia), acorns (Quercus spp.), shrub lespedeza (Le~pedeza bicolor), and red maple (Acer rubrum) seeds were important summer food items. Animal matter contributed 7%-8% to the crop volume each year and was comprised of a variety of beetles, true bugs, ants, and grasshoppers. Management practices should be implemented to increase the variety of native seed- and fruitproducing plants in order to develop a dependable food base between seasons and years. Rye and shrub lespedeza plantings may enhance the quality of the summer range, and are utilized by bobwhites when native foods are apparently in short supply.

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