Brood habitat use and availability and daily and seasonal covey movements of Northern Bobwhites in east-central Alabama
Type of Degreethesis
DepartmentForestry and Wildlife Sciences
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We examined home range habitat composition and preferred habitats within home ranges for Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) broods during the breeding seasons (April 1 – October 31) of 2003 – 2006 on Sehoy Plantation, Alabama. Home range and habitat use data were collected for 59 quail with broods during this study. Second order habitat selection analyses showed that the composition of home ranges differed from availability during all breeding seasons. Within home ranges, hens with broods used habitats selectively for all breeding seasons. When selecting home ranges, hens with broods consistently preferred ragweed fields except for the 2003 breeding season. These hens also either preferred or showed a positive association with thinned bottoms three out of four years and preferred unburned mature pine woods only one year. Within home ranges, hens preferred ragweed fields three out of four breeding seasons and thinned bottoms were preferred during half of the breeding seasons in this study. We additionally investigated covey movements and daily activity patterns in relation to supplemental feed lines during the quail season of 2006 – 2007 (Nov 18 – Feb 28). Because feed lines often influence movements, survival, and home ranges, we tested the hypothesis that most quail activity would occur during the first two hours following sunrise. We predicted that daily movements would be similar to those observed on similarly managed sites in Georgia. We also predicted that, because of higher predicted activity patterns in the morning, covey movement rates would be significantly higher during the morning time period. We also hypothesized that daily home ranges would increase with distance from feed lines. Our results indicated that covey movements fell between those observed on intensively managed sites in Georgia and Kansas and those found on less intensively managed sites in Virginia. We found that movement rates were not different across time periods. We also found no difference in home range or distance to feed lines across time periods. We observed that quail coveys were most active around one hour after sunrise, lasting approximately two hours, and around one hour before sunset.