Releasing captive-reared masked bobwhite for population recovery: A review

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Edited by:
L.A. Brennan , W.E. Palmer , L.W. Burger Jr. , and T.L. Pruden


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Efforts to re-establish the endangered masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi) to it's former southern Arizona range have been ongoing since establishment of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in 1986. Pre-release conditioning techniques developed prior to Refuge establishment continued to be utilized in an effort to improve post-release survival of captive-reared masked bobwhite chicks. Foremost among these techniques was the use of wild Texas bobwhite (C. v. texanus) males as foster parents which were paired with all broods released on the Refuge. The efficacy of this technique was evaluated using radio telemetry in 1994, and the results indicated that the use of foster Texas males was not as effective as had been presumed because post-release chick survival was poor. Therefore, in 1995 pre-release conditioning protocol were modified in an effort to improve post-release survival. The primary intent of these modifications was to emphasize wild behavior among chicks prior to release. Modifications to established protocol included imprinting chicks to adult bobwhites immediately after eggs hatched and exposing 1-to-2 day old chicks to natural foods (insects and seeds) while they were in brooder units. Foster parents and their respective broods were then placed in flight pens that mimicked the natural conditions that would confront broods upon release. Family groups were held in flight pens for several weeks for acclimatization purposes and then transported to temporary enclosures erected at release sites where they were held for a week and then released. Finally all releases were conducted during fall after covey formation was apparent to ensure that foster parents and released chicks remained with a group of birds. Preliminary results indicated that post-release chick survival was higher than what was observed in 1994. Pre-conditioning research will continue in an effort to further quantify post-release survival of masked bobwhite chicks. Although the results of this research project are preliminary, it is possible that pre-release conditioning techniques developed for masked bobwhites will prove useful to quail reestablishment efforts throughout North America.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Releasing captive-reared masked bobwhite for population recovery: A review
Year Published:
Tall Timbers Research Station
Publisher location:
Tallahassee, FL
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Other Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Quail IV: proceedings of the Fourth National Quail Symposium, May 6-9, 1997
First page:
Last page: