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2017 Bobwhite Quail Whistling Cock Census

The Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) Whistling Cock Census was conducted for the 39th consecutive year in 2017. Sixty-two routes were sampled in 2017, resulting in 57 routes which yielded data comparable to the previous year.

Methods

Census routes are sampled between 15 June and 10 July, believed to be the period of maximum bobwhite whistling in the Southeast (Rosene 1969). Each route consists of 12 stops at 1/2 mile intervals. Exactly 8 minutes are allotted for listening at each stop, beginning at official sunrise. The number of calling males is recorded at each stop and totaled for the entire route. Route totals are used for statistical comparisons. Weather conditions are also recorded, and operation of routes is discouraged on rainy or windy days. Based on an extensive analysis of historical Whistling Cock Census data, the survey protocol was changed in 2003 from a two-day survey to a one-day survey. The afternoon listening period was also eliminated as an option in the survey protocol.

As in previous years, data were analyzed using a paired t-test for equal sample sizes (Steel and Torrie 1980). Between-year comparisons were conducted using all routes that were run in both 2016 and 2017. The 2017 mean was also compared with the long-term average using a paired t-test.

Results and Discussion

Fifty-six observers surveyed 62 routes in 2017. Fifty-seven of these routes were used in year-to-year comparisons. A total of 293 whistling cocks were recorded on the 57 routes for an average of 5.1 + 0.83 (SE) birds/route. For all routes sampled, the average number of calling birds was 5.2 + 0.79 (SE) birds/route (Table 1).

The 2017 mean call count index is not significantly different (P > 0.05) from the 2016 index. The 2017 index is significantly below (P < 0.01) the long-term average for the 39 years of the census (16.7 birds/route, N=1874).

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