Pesola Scales Prove Their Worth in Habitat Study

Posted on

Helping a customer with an inquiry about Pesola Spring Balance Scales the other day suddenly had me reminiscing about my PhD fieldwork. One aspect of my research was looking at the availability and abundance of important insect-foods for northern bobwhite and other farmland birds in agricultural habitats in the southeastern United States. By relating the numbers and types of insects found in different crops to the growth and survival of bobwhite chicks that had been foraging in the same fields, we were able to assess the quality of different habitats used by bobwhite broods.

Pre-study preparation

Northern bobwhite quail chick foraging in brood-rearing habitat

To allow us to be able to find broods during the breeding season, we undertook a programme of capturing and tagging wild adult northern bobwhites in spring and fitting them with small VHF radio tracking tags .This enabled us to track the birds using telemetry and identify nesting birds from May to September. Once a brood had hatched, we closely tracked it until the chicks were 14 days old. At days 3 and 10, we would identify the night-roost site 1-2 hours before daybreak and build a small fence (approximately 30cm high) made of fine mesh around it. Once light, we would then strip away the vegetation until the adult birds flushed and the chicks ran to the edge of the fence. We were then able to capture the chicks, weigh and measure them and then release them back to the patiently waiting parents just outside the fence.

Pesola Scales – The weigh to go for field-based work!

Weighing a northern bobwhite quail chick with pesola scales
Weighing a 3 day old northern bobwhite chick using Pesola scales

Why this part of my PhD fieldwork suddenly popped into my head was because it was crucial to the study that we were able to accurately weigh the tiny chicks (only 6g at hatch) despite being in the middle of a hot, humid and dirty field at 4 am. Our Pesola scales never let us down and always proved to be excellent at providing accurate measurements quickly and efficiently. This was of particular importance as we were working with young birds and had to keep handling-time to a minimum.  As with many of the products we sell at Perdix, we can vouch for their quality and durability as we have put them to the test ourselves. While my PhD fieldwork was a few years ago now, Pesola Scales remain the professional choice worldwide.

 Results of the study

Over the two years of the study, we managed to track over 20 northern bobwhite broods and collect data on chick survival and growth from a large proportion of these. The results of this work identified the importance of certain insect groups to the health of bobwhite chicks. By designing and implementing habitat management prescriptions designed to increase the abundance and availability of these key chick-food insects, the foraging value of cropped and non-cropped areas in the southeastern United States can be improved for northern bobwhite and other declining farmland birds.