An Analysis of Weight Loss and Stress Physiology of Captive-Reared and Translocated California Valley Quail

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ag Science and Natural Resources

Date of Award

Summer 2021


Avian translocations can result in weight loss and physiological stress, likely contributing to the low survival rate of translocated birds. Since quail translocations are becoming increasingly popular due to rapidly declining populations in the U.S., there is a growing need for a non-invasive assessment of stress. The objectives of this study were (1) determine an efficient travel ration to mitigate weight loss during a 48-hr simulated translocation (2) biologically validate the use of fecal corticosterone metabolites (FCM) as a non-invasive measurement of stress in valley quail, and (3) evaluate the efficacy of dietary supplements vitamin C and E to mitigate weight loss and stress during translocations. Northern bobwhites were brought into a laboratory setting for a 48-hr simulated translocation, and individually sorted into treatment groups (Control 1, ¼ cucumber, ½ cucumber, control 2, seed patty, and millet spray). Although we did not mitigate weight loss during simulated translocation with any of the tested travel rations, we did determine an efficient ration in millet, since it weighed less, had low moisture content, and was easier to handle and obtain. Captive-reared valley quail were housed in an outdoor aviary for 3 wks. to acclimate quail and reference FCM concentrations were obtained. Captive-reared valley quail were sorted into four treatment groups (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin C + E, and control), and individually housed in a laboratory settling to simulate a 48-hr translocation. Fecal samples were collected every 4 hr and processed using an enzyme immunoassay. Mean FCM concentration during the simulated translocation was (41.50 ±16.13 ng/g), while reference FCM concentrations were (24.07 ±10.4 ng/g). These results verify the stressful nature of quail translocations and validate using FCM concentrations as a non-invasive method to assess stress hormone levels in California valley quail. Dietary supplements vitamin C and E did not mitigate weight loss during the simulated translocation. This methodology can be used in future studies to investigate stress mitigation during the translocation process. Future translocations would benefit from the addition of millet as a travel ration, monitoring FCM during the translocation process, reducing handling time during processing, and adding stress mitigating enrichment



Subject Categories

Agriculture | Animal Sciences | Life Sciences