Understanding survival and cause-specific mortality of native and translocated animals can help biologists design more effective recovery programs. We estimated survival rates for 181 native mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus) in west-central Idaho from 1992 to 1996 and for 199 translocated mountain quail in western Idaho and eastern Washington in 2005 and 2006. Spring—summer survival of native birds over 4 yr ranged from 0.210 (SE = 0.116) to 0.799 (SE = 0.103) and fall-winter survival in 2 yr was 0.523 (SE = 0.089) and 0.244 (SE = 0.084). Annual survival rates were 0.418 (SE = 0.088) and 0.174 (SE = 0.065). Springsummer survival rate of translocated birds was 0.215 (SE = 0.044) in 2005 and 0.059 (SE = 0.021) in 2006. We modeled biweekly survival as a function of sex, age, movement rate, native versus translocated status, and linear time trend, and then we added year and 3 weather covariates (mean biweekly precipitation and maximum and minimum temperatures). Year and climate variables improved the a priori top model which included movement rate and native versus translocated status. Higher mortality rates due to predation coincided with movements to breeding habitat in late winter, periods of higher temperatures in the spring and summer, and periods of higher precipitation and colder temperatures during the fall-winter seasons. High movement rates of native birds in winter to avoid snow and by translocated birds when dispersing may have led to greater exposure to predators and consequently lower survival rates. Mountain quail can experience low and variable survival, stressing the potential need for multiple years of releases in restoration efforts in the eastern portion of their range. More attention is needed to identify optimal habitat (including nest sites) for restoring mountain quail populations to reduce movements, lower mortality risks, and provide conditions for withstanding periods of unfavorable weather.
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Vol. 75 • No. 6