Biologists have debated the effectiveness of supplemental feeders as a management tool for the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), but few extensive evaluations have been conducted. We examined 783 crops from harvested bobwhites during 1992-1996 to determine effects of climatic stress in winter on use of supplemental feeders and their impact on survival rate in winter. Crops of bobwhites harvested from areas with supplemental feeders contained 28.2% supplemental food compared with 5.5% (P<0.001) for those from areas without supplemental feeders. Winter climate was not a significant predictor of the proportional use of supplemental feeders. Rates of winter survival were greater on areas with supplemental feeders compared with non-supplemented areas in winters 1992-1993 (P=0.001) and 1993-1994 (P=0.002), but in 1994-1995, rates were greater on nonsupplemented areas (P=0.032). Cause-specific mortality rates indicated that supplemental feeders did not predispose bobwhites to hunter harvest or predators. Results suggested that bobwhites can gain nutritional benefits from supplemental feeders during times of severe winter stress.
Additional publication details
Using supplemental food and its influence on survival of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)