Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Ralph W. Dimmick

Committee Members

Garland R. Wells, James T. Tanner


The objective of this study was to delineate dietary patterns of bobwhite quail on the Ames Plantation with respect to seasonal variation in food selection and feeding preferences of different age and sex groups. Preliminary field studies began in July, 1966, while quail collections began in December, 1966.

The study was conducted on the 18,600-acre Ames Plantation located near Grand Junction, Fayette-Hardeman Counties, Tennessee. The research area encompassed 4,263 acres which are intensively managed for quail.

Major land use types on the study area were forest, 37 percent; idle, field border, and fallow, 22 percent; cultivated, 22 percent; hay and pasture, 17 percent; and food plots, 2 percent.

A total of 672 bobwhites were collected during December, 1966 through March, 1969. Males contributed 54.1 percent of the birds collected while females accounted for 45.9 percent.

The most important foods comprising the annual diet of bobwhites on the study area were soybeans (38.1 percent), corn (6.0 percent), Johnson grass (5.2 percent), grasshoppers (4.2 percent), and browntop millet (3.4 percent).

The acreage of soybeans grown in Fayette County has increased 1,022 percent from 1959 to 1969. The upward trend in total soybean acreage has increased the availability of soybeans as a source of food for quail.

Major winter foods consumed by quail were soybeans (71.1 percent), corn (9.7 percent), and Johnson grass (4.4 percent).

Important foods consumed by bobwhites during the spring were soybeans (39.9 percent), green leafy vegetation (6.9 percent), wood sorrell (6.8 percent), and violet (6.1 percent). Animal foods comprised 16.5 percent of the diet in spring.

Major summer foods consumed by quail were grasshoppers (9.4 per cent), Johnson grass (9.1 percent), browntop millet (7.7 percent), and soybeans (6.2 percent). Animal foods were important in the diet during the summer, comprising 30.5 percent of the total volume.

The fall diet of quail consisted of 14.3 percent animal and 85.7 percent plant food. Soybeans comprised 53.2 percent of the food consumed by quail. Other important fall foods were grasshoppers (9.5 percent) and browntop millet (7.4 percent).

Food habits of juvenile quail were more similar to adult hens than to adult cocks during the summer season. Juvenile quail consumed 37.6 percent animal foods, adult hens 36.2 percent, and adult males 19.9 percent.

The four most important foods consumed by adult quail during the summer were grasshoppers (8.8 percent), Johnson grass (8.4 percent), soybeans (7.1 percent), and browntop millet (6.7 percent). Juvenile foods included sassafras (11.8 percent), grasshoppers (10.8 percent), Johnson grass (10.4 percent), and browntop millet (9.8 percent).

I examined 118 juvenile bobwhites which ranged in age from less than 1 week to 15 weeks. During the first two weeks of life, the chicks diet contained 94.1 percent animal food. As juvenile birds progressed in age they utilized less animal foods and consumed more plant foods. By the fourth week animal food decreased to 60.4 percent and by the eighth week young consumed 38.9 percent animal food.

Crop contents from 443 quail were examined to determine use of "select" foods planted in food plots. Seventy-one percent of the birds shot less than 50 yards from a food plot had eaten "select" foods. Twenty-five percent of the bobwhites collected from 51-300 yards contained "select" foods. Birds which "lived" within 50 yards of a food plot were strongly influenced in their diet by foods planted in food plots.

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