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Winter feeding habits of quail colinus virginianus in longleaf pine pinus palustris slash pine pinus elliottii habitat



Winter feeding habits of quail colinus virginianus in longleaf pine pinus palustris slash pine pinus elliottii habitat



U S Fish and Wildlife Service Special Scientific Report-Wildlife (220): 1-39



Crops of bobwhite quail (C. virginianus) collected in 11 yr (7147 in winter and 92 in other seasons) in the longleaf-slash pine (P. palustris-P. elliottii) forest type were examined for food content. Seeds of woody plants made up 45% or more of the volume of food found in crops in 9 of 11 winters. Seeds of pines (Pinus spp.), drupes of red bay (Persea borbonia) and acorns from various oaks (Quercus spp.) were large-volume food items in certain years. As a group, seeds produced by legumes were next largest in volume, varying from 2-48% in 11 winters. Seeds of partridge peas (Cassia spp.), common lespedeza (Lespedeza striata), bush clovers (Lespedeza spp.), milkpeas (Galactia spp.) and tick-clovers (Desmodium spp.) were important species. Volumes of seeds of grass, spurge and sedge families were usually less than 12% for each group, and volumes of green leaves and animal matter less than 5% each. Panic (Panicum spp.) and paspalums (Paspalum spp.) were principal grass species. Availability of seeds influenced consumption by forest-dwelling quail. In habitat management for quail, a variety of trees and shrubs should be maintained in the forest type to better insure a dependable food base, season to season and year to year. Desirable herbaceous food plants should be encouraged by fire and mechanical means.

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