Quail infested with eyeworm.

Assessing Eyeworm and Cecal Worm Infestations in Quail Throughout the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas

Rachel E. Bittner, Ryan S. Luna, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, and Dale Rollins

Throughout the Trans-Pecos quail populations are declining due to various anthropogenic influences, including habitat loss and fragmentation. Scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) are the second most abundant quail species in Texas; however, there is currently little information regarding the parasitic eyeworm (Oxyspirura petrowi) and cecal worm (Aulonocephalus pennula) prevalence within scaled quail, especially throughout the Trans-Pecos. Providing information concerning parasite prevalence in scaled quail in the Trans-Pecos may aid in determining the effect that parasites are having on scaled quail population declines throughout their current range.

To assess scaled quail for eyeworms and cecal worms, birds were collected using a combination of hunter donations, funnel trapping, and personal collection. Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) and Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) were opportunistically harvested for parasite assessment. Quail were collected from multiple ranches across the Trans-Pecos to ensure various precipitation levels are represented. Eyeworms and cecal worms were identified and collected using naked-eye and microscopic assessment. Precipitation gradients were assessed by comparing concentration of eyeworm and cecal worm prevalence to average precipitation where the birds were collected.

To assess supplemental feeding sites for quail density and parasite loads, seeds, insects, and supplemental feed were identified from crops, and the percentage of supplemental feed in the scaled quail diet is currently being analyzed. Investigating parasite prevalence, abundance, and intensity and their relationship with Trans-Pecos precipitation and food sources is an important step in evaluating how these parasites may be impacting Trans-Pecos quails.

Funding source: Park Cities Quail Coalition.