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Species visitation at free-choice quail feeders in west texas


  • Associate Editor: Applegate


Providing supplemental feed is a common practice for the management of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata). The ecological efficacy and economic efficiency of a feeding program for quail can be evaluated using numerous metrics, including visitation rates by target and non-target species. We quantified species visitation rates seasonally at free-choice quail feeders with motion-sensing cameras at 4 sites in West Texas, USA. Feeders were monitored from autumn 2002 to summer 2003 using both an active-infrared sensing camera system (TrailMaster 1500®; Goodson & Associates, Inc., Lenexa, KS) and a passive infrared video system (TrophyView®; Wildlife Surveillance Systems, Inc., Kerens, TX). Our camera systems recorded 14 mammal and 18 avian species among 6,558 events observed from 490 days of feeder surveillance. Collectively, northern bobwhite and scaled quail accounted for only 7.3% and 11.3% of all recorded species visitations for the TrophyView and TrailMaster camera systems, respectively. Raccoons (Procyon lotor, 43.2%) and nongame birds (32.5%) comprised the majority of all recorded visitations. Although feeder visitation rates do not necessarily equate to feed consumption, we conclude that the vast majority of the feed in this study was consumed by non-target species and most notably raccoons. High visitation rates by raccoons at feeders suggest supplemental feeding programs for quail could facilitate targeted removal of a common feed competitor (and potential predator of quail nests) and perhaps improve efficacy of feeding efforts. Managers should consider both direct and indirect effects of providing supplemental feeding efforts. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.