Population Although still locally common, northern bobwhite has declined significantly in the United States. Manipulation of habitat and the high populations of the introduced fire ant are believed to be key factors in the decline. Dramatic declines have left the species virtually extirpated in many areas where it was once common. The native population of “masked bobwhite” was extirpated from the United States by 1900.
Bobwhites are popular throughout the world, with healthy captive populations everywhere where bird-keeping is enjoyed. Certain countries/states require permits and record keeping, as the possibility that an introduced population may compete with or spread diseases with native quail is a real threat.
ReferencesBrennan, L. A. 1999. Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 397, pp. 1-28. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the American Ornithologists' Union, Philadephia and Washington, DC.
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Northern bobwhite were introduced into Italy in 1927, and are reported in the plains and hills in the northwest of the country. Other reports from the EU are in France, Spain, and Yugoslavia. As bobwhites are highly productive and popular aviary subjects, it is reasonable to expect other introductions have been made in other parts of the EU, especially in the UK and Ireland, where game-bird breeding, liberation, and naturalisation are relatively common practices.
In an open aviary hens will lay all over the show if a nesting site and privacy are not provided. Hens that do this may lay upwards of 80 eggs in a season which can be taken for artificial incubation - and chicks hand raised. Otherwise hens with nesting cover, that do make a nest (on the ground) will build up 8–25 eggs in a clutch, with eggs being laid daily.
The Northern Bobwhite's diet of plant matter and insects varies with the season. In winter, they eat mostly seeds, while in summer when raising young, they eat mostly insects. The young also eat mostly insect matter.
Millions of birds die unnecessary deaths each year because of deadly hazards such as uncovered oil pits.
An early-successional species, the Northern Bobwhite lives in shrubby thickets adjacent to open areas such as grasslands, agriculture, roadsides, and wood edges. Bobwhites take advantage of edges created by fire, timber harvesting, and agriculture.
Voice The male’s advertising call is a whistled bob-white or bob-bob-white. Other calls include a low whistled ka-lo-kee and a variety of clucks.
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Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching; are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. If danger threatens young, parents may put on distraction display. Young can make short flights at 1-2 weeks, not full-grown for several more weeks.
The Central American spot-bellied bobwhite looks very similar, but lacks black facial coloration. The Asian rain quail is smaller in size and has a black breast.
Includes seeds, leaves, insects. Diet varies with season and place. Eats many seeds (especially those of legumes), also leaves, buds, berries, acorns, roots, insects, spiders, and snails. May eat mostly seeds in winter, with more insects eaten in summer. Young birds may eat mostly insects at first.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
The clear whistle "bob-WHITE" or "bob-bob-WHITE" call is very recognizable. The syllables are slow and widely spaced, rising in pitch a full octave from beginning to end. Other calls include lisps, peeps, and more rapidly whistled warning calls. Another phrase to used mimic the call of the bobwhite is "Bobwhite, your (bob) peas (bob) ripe (white)?".
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Matthew Chumchal (author), Southwestern University, Stephanie Fabritius (editor), Southwestern University.
The species is generally monogamous, but there is some evidence of polygamy. Both parents incubate a brood for 23 to 24 days, and the precocial young leave the nest shortly after hatching. Both parents lead the young birds to food and care for them for 14 to 16 days until their first flight. A pair may raise one or two broods annually, with 12 to 16 eggs per clutch.
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They are intricately patterned in brown, rufous, buff, and black. Males have a bold black-and-white head pattern. Females have a buffy throat and eyebrow.
An albino hen was present in a covey in Bayview, Hawkes Bay for a couple of seasons sometime around 2000.
Status and Distribution Uncommon to common year-round in a variety of open habitats with sufficient brushy cover. Introduced to northwestern North America, the Bahamas, several Caribbean islands, and New Zealand. The “masked bobwhite” is rare in the Altar Valley of southern Arizona and is the result of a reintroduction effort from remaining populations in Sonora; it is federally listed as endangered.
Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Forages by walking on ground, head down, searching for food by sight; sometimes moves up into vines or shrubs. Feeds in flocks (coveys) at most seasons, alone or in family groups during breeding season.
Northern Bobwhites travel in coveys and run across the ground from the shelter of one shrubby patch to another. When they are flushed, they explode into flight with quick wingbeats and then duck into the nearest cover.
Rich, T.D.; Beardmore, C.J.; Berlanga, H.; Blancher, P.J.; Bradstreet, M.S.W.; Butcher, G.S.; Demarest, D.W.; Dunn, E.H.; Hunter, W.C.; Inigo-Elias, E.E.; Martell, A.M.; Panjabi, A.O.; Pashley, D.N.; Rosenberg, K.V.; Rustay, C.M.; Wendt, J.S.; Will, T.C.
There are twenty-one recognized subspecies in 3 groups. 1 subspecies is extinct.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Colinus virginianus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/11/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/11/2016.
Madge, S.; McGowan, P. 2002. Pheasants, partridges and grouse: including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. Christopher Helm, London.
To woo a "Mary," bowerbirds decorate with shells, cans, even pink paper clips.
Further web sources of informationExplore HBW Alive for further information on this species
In courtship, male turns head to side to show off pattern, droops wings, fluffs up feathers, makes short rushes at female; also walks slowly around female with tail fanned, feathers fluffed up. Nest site (apparently chosen by both members of pair) is on ground among dense growth. Nest (built by both sexes) is shallow depression lined with grass, leaves. Grass and weeds are often woven into an arch over nest, making it very well hidden, with entrance at one side.
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del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
—From the National Geographic book Complete Birds of North America, 2006