National Quail Symposium Proceedings


Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) represent one of the least studied North American quail species, particularly in Texas. This lack of information may be partly due to their secretive nature and difficulty of capturing. We provide the first published report of fate of radio-marked Montezuma quail in Texas. We captured, radio-marked, and released 14 Montezuma quail on Elephant Mountain (n = 9) and Davis Mountain Preserve (n = 5) during 2000-2005. We used 2 methods of attachment for pendant style neck-loop radio transmitters. Body-loop transmitters were affixed to quail captured at the Davis Mountain Preserve whereas both body-loop and neck-loop were used at Elephant Mountain. All radio-marked Montezuma quail died within a relatively short period (1-16 days). Causes of mortality for most Montezuma quail were attributed to raptors (n = 9), mammals (n = 1), and miscellaneous (n = 4). Because this low survival rate would not sustain a natural population, we suspect trapping, handling, and/or radio-marking negatively affected survival. It is possible that transmitters potentially restricted escape movements or interfered with other behavior thereby making Montezuma quail more vulnerable to predation. Traditional techniques used to affix radio transmitters or transmitter design itself need to be refined if Montezuma quail are to be studied using radio telemetry.