Summer Diet of Northern Bobwhite in Eastern Mississippi: Implications for Habitat Management

Potential dietary differences between adult female and male northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) during the breeding season may influence habitat use and thus require special habitat management. The bobwhite literature contains only meager quantitative information, and no statistical evaluation, of adult female and male bobwhite diets during the breeding season. Therefore, we collected bobwhites and quantified their food use to test the null hypothesis that diets of male and female bobwhites were similar during the breeding season. In 41 female and 47 male bobwhites collected in eastern Mississippi from April-September 1968-1978, we found that females consumed greater (P <0.001) numbers and biomass of animal matter (primarily arthropods and snails) than males. There was no difference (P >0.05) between the sexes in number or biomass of plant material in the diet. Animal foods may play an important, and previously overlooked role in the diet of breeding bobwhites.

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