by John Palarski
One of the bright spots for this year’s translocation effort in Erath County has been reproduction. As of July 28, we have found 45 nests on our release site (2,200 acres). Of those nests, 19 hatched (44%) and 2 are still incubating. One important metric we seek to quantify is nest initiation rate which we define as the number of nests initiated divided by the number of hens alive on May 1. To date, bobwhite sourced from the Rolling Plains have exhibited a higher nest initiation rate (1.11 nests per hen) than those sourced from South Texas (0.66 nests per hen). These rates are comparable to those reported for stable populations in the Rolling Plains.
It is also important to note that radio-marked birds are merely a sample of the total population., We released 236 bobwhites to Erath County in March 2020 but only fitted collars to 110. Given our sample’s nest success, nest initiation rates, clutch size and survival, we estimate that reproduction from this year’s translocated adults has added 392 chicks to the landscape. That is great news, especially considering resident bobwhite, which we know are present at low densities, likely contributed even more to production.
We are hoping that the late July rain we have received will stimulate a late push of nests here in Erath County. We expect to find a few more nests, but we are turning our focus more to brood sightings, which are increasing in frequency. We’ll continue to keep you posted as we near the end of the nesting season!