Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Ralph W. Dimmick

Committee Members

Hershel Shirley, Sharon Patton


Twenty six bobwhite quail were trapped on Ames Plantation during July and August, 1981. Each bird was analyzed for body weight, body fat, gastrointestinal parasites, food habits and blood plasma biochemical values. Adrenal, pancreas, testes, follicle and oviduct measurements were also taken. Several parameters were compared to values from April/May bobwhite (McRae, 1978).

Adult females were significantly heavier (180.3 g) than adult males (154.7 g) (P≤.05). Mean body weight of juveniles was 140.9 g. The significant July to August increase in adult male body weight (P≤.05) was believed to be associated with changing hormone levels and reduced breeding activity.

Percent body fat was 15.5 in adult females, 12.9 in adult males and 8.4 in juvenile males. Adult male and female values were higher than earlier breeding adults. The 57% fat increase in August males was accompanied by a significantly lower FFA level (as indicated by albumin level).

Plasma triglyceride increased in adult males and decreased in adult females from April/May levels. Plasma glucose also declined and was significantly lower in adult females than in adult males. Lower glucose in females and a substantially increased plasma globulin may have indicated a response to large numbers of gastrointestinal parasites. Plasma uric acid increased in males and decreased in females over summer.

Five nematode, 1 cestode and 2 trematode species were recovered from the gastrointestinal tracts. Heterakis bonasae occurred in every bird, averaging 138 worms per adult bird. Female quail harbored significantly more worms than males (P≤.05). Tetrameres pattersoni were found in the proventriculus of 50% of the birds. Cyrnea colini, and Dispharnyx nasuta were recovered from few birds in low numbers. The cestode Rhabdometra odiosa was found in 3 females. Two trematodes, Leucochloridium sp. and Echinoparyphium sp. were recovered from the intestines of 2 hens.

Mean adrenal percent of body weight was 0.105. It was lower than during winter, suggesting that bobwhites were not experiencing stress. Mean pancreas percent was.1226.

The 4 largest ovarian follicles and the oviducts were weighed and measured. Follicles appeared to be in normal hierarchal arrangement. The oviduct length averaged 23.5 cm. The left testis was heavier and larger in adults and juveniles. Juvenile testes were significantly smaller than adults. Mean testis percent of body weight showed a significant negative correlation to increasing body fat in adults (r=-.66, P≤.01, n=17).

In July, the bobwhite diet contained about equal volumes of animal and plant matter but animal matter dropped to 27% in August. Seeds of Sassafras albidum and grasshoppers were the most abundant plant and animal foods.

Because of the increasing body weight and fat percent, the seemingly unstressed biochemical values and normal gonad development, late summer quail appeared to be in good condition.

Studies to determine the physiologic condition of a population often entail special sampling and lengthy analytical procedures. A simpler method of assessing condition would be needed for yearly evaluations of a managed, wild population. Bobwhite wings are collected annually by some wildlife agencies and represent a potential source of valuable physiologic information.

Twenty six bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) were collected from Tall Timbers Research Station during the winter of 1981. Fat was extracted from the total body, the total feathers, the left wing and the left wing feathers. Fat levels of the wing and the total body were compared. The significance of feathers in the fat comparisons was determined.

Only juvenile males showed a significant correlation between wing and total body fat weights (r=.87, P≤.05, n=6) and percentages (r=.79, P≤.06, n=6). A significant correlation was not found between wing and total body fat when data were pooled. There was a significant difference between the fat of the wing and total body when fat was expressed as a percentage of oven-dry weight (P=.004). Wing fat proved to be a poor index of total lipid reserves in this study.

Though feather fat contributed significantly to total body and wing fat, it weakened the correlations between the wing and body in the feathered and unfeathered analyses. The left wing feathers comprised 32.5% of total feather fat. The significant variation in wing feather fat (c.v.= 1.41) indicated that exclusion of feathers from fat comparisons was preferable.

Fat levels were not significantly affected by variation of wet body weights. Fat weight was significantly correlated to oven-dry weight in the body, but not in the wing.

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