Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Texas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Texas Project

Threat specific escape behaviors and habitat use by northern bobwhite.

December 2009 - August 2012


Participating Agencies

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch

Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhites) are a species of great economic importance but have declining populations range-wide. As a result, bobwhites are a highly researched species. Flight behavior and cover use patterns of northern bobwhites have been examined in several studies, all of which have contributed to a large set of habitat management recommendations for the species. However, the existing data lack quantitative measures of how bobwhites respond to natural threat, not solely direct human disturbance. I examined aspects of bobwhite behavior in response to four threat categories: researcher, hunter, raptor, and mammalian. I found that bobwhite flight distance is best predicted by threat type, covey size, and wind speed. I found that bobwhites flushed by the hunter threat (P = 0.034) and the raptor threat (P < 0.0001) selected for significantly higher visual obstruction at landing sites compared to availability. Raptor-flushed bobwhites also selected for significantly higher shrub density (P < 0.0001) and lower angle of obstruction (P <0.0001) at landing points than what were randomly available. In the process of data collection I also observed bobwhite roost locations (n=24) to have lower visual height obstruction (P = 0.03), lower shrub density (P = 0.02), and higher angles of obstruction (P = 0.005) than bobwhite diurnal locations. My results verify that bobwhite escape strategies and cover use vary among threat types. These results support current management recommendations of creating a patchwork of vegetation covers for bobwhite, but also indicate the importance of understanding of bobwhite behavior to improve management and conservation strategies.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Perkins, Rebecca N. 2012. Anti-predatory behavior of northern bobwhite in the Rolling Plains of Texas. M.S. Thesis, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. May 2012
Perkins, R. 2019. Impact of transmitter weight and attachment on raptor agility and survival. Dissertation, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. August 2019