Effect of conspecific attraction on the presence of Northern Bobwhites

Loren Merrill, Stephen A. Tyndel, Michael P. Ward, Thomas J. Benson, Jinelle H. Sperry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers and managers have used the tendency of some species of birds to settle near conspecifics (i.e., conspecific attraction) to help establish or reestablish species of conservation concern in targeted habitats. However, most studies of conspecific attraction as a recruitment tool have been conducted with either migratory or colonial-breeding species, and less is known about the possible importance of conspecific attraction for resident species. In 2017 and 2018 in Louisiana, we examined the possible use of conspecific attraction as a management tool for Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), game birds that are year-round residents. We used an alternating split experimental design across years where Northern Bobwhite vocalizations were broadcast at half of our study sites during the first year of our study and the other half were controls. The following year, experimental sites became controls, and controls became experimental sites. We also assessed land cover at each site to determine if variation in habitat composition at small spatial scales influenced bobwhite presence. We detected six times more Northern Bobwhites at treatment sites (sites with playback) than control sites and found a positive association between the proportion of grass cover and bobwhite presence. These results suggest that a non-migratory, resident species may select breeding locations based, at least in part, on the presence of conspecifics, and that playback of their calls could be incorporated into management plans. Playing back conspecific calls in early spring when Northern Bobwhites are likely searching for breeding locations may facilitate colonization and allow individuals to find locations where managers are attempting to restore their populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Colinus virginianus
  • Louisiana
  • game bird
  • land management
  • resident species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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