The Northern Bobwhite, Virginia Quail or (in its home range) Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) is a ground-dwelling bird native to North America and northern Central America and the Caribbean. It is a member of the group of species known as New World quails (Odontophoridae). They were initially placed with the Old World quails in the pheasant family (Phasianidae), but are not particularly closely related. The name "bobwhite" derives from its characteristic whistling call.
Northern Bobwhites are distinguished by a dark cap stripe behind the eye along the head, black in males and brown in females. The area in between is white on males and yellow-brown on females. The body is brown, speckled in places with black or white on both sexes, and average weight is five to six ounces (145-200 grams).
The Northern Bobwhite's song is a rising, clear whistle, bob-White! or bob-bob-White! The call is most often given by males in spring and summertime. Other vocalizations include a range of squeaky whistles. (Source: Wikapedia)
Originally thought to be monogamous, there is now clear evidence of ambisexual polygamy among northern bobwhites, meaning that both males and females are known to incubate and raise broods with more than one mate during the breeding season. (Brennan, 1999)
Courtship and pair formation can begin as early as February in south Texas while occurring later at higher latitudes. Nest building, egg laying, and incubation occur intensively from May to August. The beginning of the nesting season in Texas has been tied to rainfall and vegetation growth. Bobwhites mate in their first year of life and rear one brood a year. Nests destroyed before hatching will be rebuilt while broods lost after hatching are usually not replaced. South Texas broods have been reported as late as November and December.
Northern bobwhites have a short life span and high mortality rates. Few individuals live longer than five years, and about 80% live less than one year. Exposure is an important source of mortality during the winter. Deep snows and prolonged periods of cold may cause extensive losses. Also, feeding in agricultural environments can lead to exposure to contaminants which often have lethal effects. (Brennan, 1999)
The diet consists primarily of seeds but also includes green leafy material, fruits, and invertebrates. Approximately 85% of the diet is vegetation and 15% animal matter. However, the relative quantity of each is seasonal (Ehrlich, et al 1988).