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State Birds of the US
State Symbols: State Birds

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Tennessee State Game Bird

Bobwhite Quail (partridge)

State Symbol: Tennessee State Game Bird - Bobwhite Quail

(Colinus virginianus)

Adopted in 1988

The bobwhite quail, (Colinus virginianus,) was designated as the official state game bird of Tennessee by Public Chapter 775 of the Acts of the 95th General Assembly in 1988. The bobwhite, also known as the partridge, is considered one of the finest game birds in the world. It is a short-tailed chunky brown bird, usually 8 to 10 inches long. The male has a white throat and a white stripe above the eye, while the female has a buffy throat and eye stripe.

The emphatic, whistled bob-white ringing from a grassy field or piney woods has long been a characteristic sound of summers in the Eastern countryside and is in fact the bobwhite quail is the state game bird of Missouri, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Tennessee State Game Bird: Bobwhite Quail

State Symbol: Tennessee State Game Bird - Bobwhite Quail

The bobwhite, also known as the partridge, is considered one of the finest game birds in the world. It is a short-tailed chunky brown bird, usually 8 to 10 inches long. The male has a white throat and a white stripe above the eye, while the female has a buffy throat and eye stripe. In spring the male's clearly whistled bob white is answered by the female's four-syllable whistle. This gamebird lays from 10 to 20 pure white eggs, more than almost any other bird.

The bird is about 24 cm in length and is generally red-brown in appearance with black and tawny markings. The male has a white throat and eyebrow. The hen is similar in appearance, but her throat and eyebrow is buff and her overall color is somewhat lighter.

Characteristics of the Bobwhite Quail

Food Habits

This bird eats seeds, fruits, grasses, grains, corn, acorns and insects. 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).

In early spring, leafy material is an important source of vitamins. Insects are important from spring until autumn; during these months they may constitue a quarter of the diet. Females consume more insects than males in response to elevated need for protein during egg laying. Fruits are also an important summer source of carbohydrates. Seeds and legumes constitute the majority of the bobwhite diet in fall and winter. Hatchlings are completely dependent on insects as a food source (Landers and Mueller 1986).

Call, Behaviour

The bird gives a clear whistled bob-WHITE or poor-bob-WHITE call. Bobwhite Quail are sedentary. After the breeding season they live together in a covey of up to 30 individuals, huddling together at night and in cold weather. When danger threatens, the birds fly out in all directions, startling the would-be predator, who often catches none of the quail.

Habitat

Woodlands, open country with brush and weeds, grasslands, croplands and roadsides.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in mid-April, peaks in May and June, and extends into September. Found in the grass, the nest is a depression lined with fine grass. The female usually lays 12-16 eggs (range, 6-28). Both adults incubate the eggs for 23-24 days, and care for the precocial young for 6-7 days after they hatch. The young are able to capture food themselves after approximately 7 days. The family group stays together with the covey, a group of 2 or more families of Bobwhite.

Natural Distribution

The Bobwhite Quail is native to northern and central America from southern Ontario in south-eastern Canada, central and eastern USA to eastern Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and the Isle of Pines.

The quail is thought to be locally common and was once a popular game bird in the southern states of the USA, but numbers and range have been reduced by agriculture. Fortunately, bobwhite quail do not move much and are very adaptable. This has allowed landowners to effectively manage the birds on relatively small tracts of land

Tennessee Code

The law designating the bobwhite quail as the official Tennessee state game bird is Section 4-1-318 (State game bird) of the Tennessee Code, Title 4 (STATE GOVERNMENT) Chapter 1 (GENERAL PROVISIONS) Part 3 (STATE SYMBOLS) Section 4-1-318.

TITLE 4 - STATE GOVERNMENT.
CHAPTER 1 - GENERAL PROVISIONS.
PART 3 - STATE SYMBOLS.
SECTION 4-1-318.

4-1-318. State game bird.

The bobwhite quail is hereby designated as the official "state game bird."

[Acts 1988, ch. 775, §; 1.]

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Bobwhite Quail

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
    Phylum: Chordata - chordates
Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Galliformes
Family: Odontophoridae
Genus: Colinus
Species: Colinus virginianus

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:  Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.
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