Description: Isolated populations of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) have declined causing many quail managers to attempt population restoration by releasing captive-reared bobwhites or translocating wild bobwhites. I evaluated three restoration techniques: (1) release of captive-reared bobwhites, (2) translocation of bobwhites from high densities to low densities, and (3) release of captive-reared and translocated bobwhites acclimated on site prior to release. These results show that captive-reared birds have reduced survival and fewer nesting attempts when compared to translocated birds and that acclimation time was not a factor. I hypothesized that high mortality rates were caused by captive-reared birds exhibiting different predator avoidance behavior than wild birds. Captive-reared and wild-trapped bobwhites were subjected to independent predator simulations and their responses were recorded on high definition video. Threat recognition time, reaction type, and reaction time was recorded for comparative analysis. Pen-reared birds recognized the simulated raptorial and terrestrial predator threats quicker than wild-trapped birds, but reaction times were not different among groups. However, the type of reaction was different among groups where pen-reared birds typically flushed immediately upon recognizing either simulated predator as compared to wild-trapped birds which typically ran or held when subjected to the raptorial threat and showed little to no observable reaction to the terrestrial threat. These results reveal a potential loss of a holding trait in pen-reared birds, resulting in a quicker revealing of their position in the presence of a threat, thereby increasing their risk of predation.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Newman, William L.