Predation is the primary cause of nest failure for northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). There are few reliable data documenting the species diversity and relative importance of bobwhite nest predators in southern Texas, USA. We used infrared video-monitoring systems to document nest fates of 127 bobwhite nests over 4 nesting seasons from 2002 to 2005 in southern Texas. A majority of depredation events (83%) were caused by 4 species: coyote (Canis latrans), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), southern fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni), and badger (Taxidea taxus). Observed bobwhite nest fates for the study period were 0.50 successful, 0.34 depredated, and 0.16 abandoned or undetermined. A universal approach to mitigating nest predation is not likely to be applicable in regions similar to southern Texas, with high nest-predator diversity (e.g., fire ants, rodents, and mammalian carnivores). We believe that infrared video surveillance is a valuable tool for documenting baseline information on predator context and nest fate for many avian species, considering the limitations of past methods (e.g., postfate evidence).
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Vol. 71 • No. 5