The Quail Diairies: Data

I have been remiss in my posting. And more so with my attention to the quail, although, I have pulled out Leopold’s most excellent book, The California Quail, to reread. It has the nicest picture of a male quail with about 30 juveniles tagging behind him.

Today, Devlin and I extracted DNA from the blood we collected. Devlin got a little bored during the process (it’s mainly moving clear liquids around) and played with a bucket of ice during the second half of extraction. I have also compiled the mass and size data I gathered from the birds, summaries of which you will find below.

We trapped 3 females, 3 males and 7 juveniles (3 identified as female, 3 identified as male, and one who’s sex was not identified). One male was trapped 2 times total, I juvenile male was trapped 2 times total and one juvenile female was trapped 4 times total. This female, incidentally, twice gave a distress call; the first time she gave this call, an adult female burst out of the brush and hovered around until I released the juvenile.

The average mass, in g, of all trapped quail was 156; of females, was 154; of males, 173; and of juveniles, 149. The average size, in mm, of each individual’s right tarsus, was 32 for all quail; 31 for females; 32 for males and 32 for juveniles. These values are all within the range found by people measuring California quail in San Diego and elsewhere. I have not calculated the age of the juveniles, but, based on primary and secondary wing growth, they are all approximately the same age.

I did not have a chance to take observations, so at this point I do not know how these birds associate. That, of course, is my main interest–what is the pattern of association observed in wild California quail. I need more banded birds, but I also need to take a series of observations, where I note who is with whom and where. I am not sure when this will happen.

I also have had the crazy thought that I should try to survey the quail around here–try to get a sense of the numbers of quail locally, in Seattle, and on the islands. This has not been attempted to any depth in recent history, so it is hard to know whether population sizes have remained constant over the last 50 years or if they have changed.

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