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Threat specific escape behaviors and habitat use by northern bobwhite.


December 2009 - August 2012


Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhites) are a species of great economic importance but have declining populations range-wide. As a result, bobwhites are a highly researched species. Flight behavior and cover use patterns of northern bobwhites have been examined in several studies, all of which have contributed to a large set of habitat management recommendations for the species. However, the existing data lack quantitative measures of how bobwhites respond to natural threat, not solely direct human disturbance. I examined aspects of bobwhite behavior in response to four threat categories: researcher, hunter, raptor, and mammalian. I found that bobwhite flight distance is best predicted by threat type, covey size, and wind speed. I found that bobwhites flushed by the hunter threat (P = 0.034) and the raptor threat (P < 0.0001) selected for significantly higher visual obstruction at landing sites compared to availability. Raptor-flushed bobwhites also selected for significantly higher shrub density (P < 0.0001) and lower angle of obstruction (P <0.0001) at landing points than what were randomly available. In the process of data collection I also observed bobwhite roost locations (n=24) to have lower visual height obstruction (P = 0.03), lower shrub density (P = 0.02), and higher angles of obstruction (P = 0.005) than bobwhite diurnal locations. My results verify that bobwhite escape strategies and cover use vary among threat types. These results support current management recommendations of creating a patchwork of vegetation covers for bobwhite, but also indicate the importance of understanding of bobwhite behavior to improve management and conservation strategies.

Research Products and Activities


  • Perkins, Rebecca N. 2012. Anti-predatory behavior of northern bobwhite in the Rolling Plains of Texas. M.S. Thesis, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 245

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1948

Presentations: 4253



  • Clint BoalPrincipal Investigator
  • Becki PerkinsStudent

Funding Agencies

  • Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey