Scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) populations have been declining since the early 1960s, and there is no clear understanding of what is causing this decline. It has been suggested that reproductive failure is a probable cause of this decline. We used radiotelemetry to evaluate nesting ecology and survival of scaled quail in the Southern High Plains of Texas in 1999 and 2000. We radio-marked 138 hens (66 in 1999 and 72 in 2000) and reported nesting activity on 106 nests. In 1999, 50 nests were detected with a nesting success of 44%. In 2000, 56 nests were detected with a nesting success of 64%. Chick survival was recorded at 21 days posthatch and was analyzed as present or absent, as exact numbers were difficult to determine. Two hens had chicks present at 21 days in 1999, but 16 hens had chicks present at 21 days in 2000. Chick presence with the hen at 21 days was negatively associated with cool and wet weather. Logistic regression revealed predictive relationships for models describing vegetation characteristics at and around nest sites as predictors of nesting success and nest sites. Variables in the models included percentage of bare ground, forb diversity, and amount of visual obstruction at different heights. Hen survival, nesting success, and chick survival were higher in 2000 than in 1999. Differences in vegetation composition and structure were likely responses to differences in precipitation between years. Drought and overgrazing by livestock increase the percentage of bare ground and reduce visual obstruction; these are likely contributors to the reduced scaled quail populations in the Southern High Plains.
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Vol. 70 • No. 3