Colinus virginianus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Odontophoridae

Scientific Name: Colinus virginianus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Northern Bobwhite, Bobwhite Quail, Bobwhite
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes: Colinus virginianus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was provisionally split into C. virginianus and C. ridgwayi by Stotz et al. (1996) but this treatment has not been adopted, following SACC (2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Butcher, G., Rosenberg, K. & Wells, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it has suffered moderately rapid declines in recent decades becoming rarer in many traditional strongholds owing to habitat conversion.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Near Threatened (NT)
2004 Near Threatened (NT)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Colinus virginianus is resident throughout east North America (from south Mexico and west Guatemala through the USA to extreme southern Canada) (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Brennan 1999). Populations of subspecies cubanensis on Cuba and the Isle of Pines may be natural, but many introduced populations exist across the world (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Brennan 1999, Madge and McGowan 2002). It has suffered a steady, long-term decline in most states in the USA (Brennan 1999, G. Butcher in litt. 2003), with the exception of Texas (Brennan 1999). Declines are greatest in the south-east (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Brennan 1999). Mexican populations are poorly known and some subspecies could be threatened (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Countries occurrence:
Canada; Cuba; Guatemala; Mexico; United States
Bahamas; China; Dominican Republic; France; Haiti; Italy; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Turks and Caicos Islands
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 4230000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Rich et al. (2004)

Trend Justification:  This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-82.4% decline over 40 years, equating to a -35.2% decline per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is found in early successional vegetation in a variety of habitats, created by disturbances from fire, agriculture and timber-harvesting (Brennan 1999). It is principally a seed feeder but insects form an important component of the diet in summer (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It forms coveys of 8-20 birds occupying a home range of approximately 10 ha.

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 3.7
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Changes in agricultural land use (weed removal and herbicide use), forestry (high-density pine plantations), and lack of use of prescribed fire have resulted in widespread habitat fragmentation (Brennan 1999). Over 20,000,000 individuals were recently being killed annually by hunters in the USA (del Hoyo et al. 1994); poor management of populations could result in declines.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Subspecies ridgwayi is on CITES Appendix I (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Restoration efforts are attempting to conserve this population in Arizona (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Frequent vegetation disturbance (every 1-5 yr) from prescribed fire and/or mechanical disturbances is essential for maintaining abundant populations in forest habitats. Maintaining tree canopy cover at <50% to create open, parkland conditions is essential. Burn 50-75% of understorey vegetation annually during late winter to early summer, in small, patchy mosaics. Research needs to be done in order to understand how to mitigate potential additive effects of hunting mortality (e.g. experiments that examine population productivity and recovery at various harvest regimes and densities). Optimal timing of prescribed fire for habitat management needs to be determined from field research and experimentation. Removal and reduction of mammalian predators during nesting may be useful if also conducted within the context of intensive habitat management. Improve understanding of the Mexican populations.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Colinus virginianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22728956A38311565. . Downloaded on 24 May 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided