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Monday, May 21, 2018

Species Fact Profile: Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)

Northern Bobwhite
Colinus virginianus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Range: Eastern North America, Central America
Habitat: Grassland, Open Woodland, Forest Edge
Diet: Seeds, Berries, Insects
Social Grouping: Solitary, Pairs, Small Family Groups.  May congregate in larger flocks in winter, up to two dozen birds
Reproduction: Polygynous/polyandrous.  Either parent may incubate clutch of eggs for 23 days.  Nesting tends to have poor success, so they clutch often - may lay four nests in a season in order to get one to hatch.  Nests of dead grasses.  Average clutch 12 eggs.  Fledge at 14 days old.  Sexually mature at 1 year old
Lifespan: 6 Years (Wild)
Conservation Status: IUCN Near Threatened, CITES Appendix I

  • Body length 20-25 centimeters, wingspan 30-33 centimeters.  Weight 140-170 grams.  Birds at the northern extreme of the species range tend to be larger than those at the southern
  • Plumage is red-brown with grey mottling and white striping on the flanks.  Males have a white throat with a black stripe on the brow.  Males are more brightly colored then females
  • Common name comes from its characteristic, whistling call, "bob-WHITE"
  • Parents will protect their nests by feigning broken wings to lure predators away.  Predators include hawks, raccoons, skunks, and foxes
  • Spend most of their time on the ground, average flight lasts only 5 seconds, and usually only a sudden burst to escape danger
  • There are several subspecies found across the range of the species.  One, the masked bobwhite (C. v. ridgwayi) of northern Mexico, is considered endangered
  • Popular bird for sport hunting  Have been introduced to Europe (France, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland), New Zealand, and the western United States for sport
  • Populations are in decline, largely due to habitat loss due to agriculture
  • One of the most widely studied wild bird species on the planet, both as a laboratory specimen and for game management

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