Food Habits of Hunter Collected Northern Bobwhite Quail in South Texas

We investigated the feeding habits of wild northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) harvested from the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in south Texas in October 2004 and January 2005. The contents of 200 crops were dried, sorted, and weighed to the nearest 0.0001 g. Percent dry weight was used to assess differences among season harvested, sex, and age. About 76% of the fall diet consisted of seeds, with 64 plant species represented. Croton (Croton spp.), woolly croton (Croton capitatus), and bristlegrass (Setaria sp.) composed greater than 50% by weight of seeds found in the fall diet. Fruit, almost entirely spiny hackberry (Celtis ehrenbergiana), comprised 17% of the fall diet. Invertebrates made up about 5% and green vegetative matter contributed 0.1% to the fall diet. No differences in feeding habits between sexes or age class were detected for fall. The winter diet consisted of 63% green vegetative matter, 28% seeds, 5% invertebrates, and 0.40% fruit. Common yellow oxalis (Oxalis stricta) and a species of pellitory (Parietaria sp.) made up over 50% of the green vegetative matter. Percent green vegetation consumed by females (78%) exceeded (P = 0.007) that of males (53%) in winter. Additionally, in winter green vegetation consumed by adults (70%) exceeded (P = 0.016) that of juveniles (59%). Differences by sex in the winter diet might be due to differences in nutritional requirements in the pre-breeding period.

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