National Quail Symposium Proceedings


Captive-reared and released game birds typically have low reproductive success in the wild which limits their use for restoration of game bird populations. A fundamental problem with captive-rearing techniques is the absence of a mechanism for imprinting. We developed a parent-rearing technique that facilitates pre- and post-hatch imprinting using parent-reared wild strain northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) chicks in outdoor pens. Parent-reared chicks were marked with patagial wing tags and recaptured during October and the following March. We radiomarked juveniles captured in March to monitor survival and reproductive success in two separate studies, one in Georgia, and one in South Carolina, USA. Band-recapture survival estimates of parent-reared chicks from release to the following breeding season in Georgia (2005–2007) averaged 0.12 (range 1⁄4 0.06 to 0.25) and was dependent on release period. Radio- marked, parent-reared bobwhites had lower survival than wild bobwhites and produced 0.3 nests per hen for the breeding season versus 1.0 nests per hen for radio-marked wild resident bobwhites. Nesting success and subsequent chick survival did not differ among groups, but sample sizes were small. Radio-marked, parent-reared hens (n 1⁄4 26) in the South Carolina study (2008–2010) produced 0.67 nests per hen for the breeding season versus 0.62 nests per hen for radio-marked wild resident hens. Nesting success and brood-rearing success of parent-reared hens did not differ from that of wild resident hens and breeding season survival was also similar. Survival and reproduction of parent-reared wild strain bobwhites were greater than previously reported for pen-reared bobwhites and may useful for restoring or enhancing bobwhites populations at the local scale.