Northern Bobwhite #23-3913

December 1, 2023
Rescue Location
Essex County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Suspected vehicle collision
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

Last week, the Wildlife Center admitted an animal that rarely comes through our doors — a Northern Bobwhite! The bobwhite had been found in the middle of an intersection in Essex County after she was likely hit by a car.

Northern Bobwhites are a species of quail that reside in native grasslands and agricultural fields in much of eastern North America. At roughly 10 inches tall and under half a pound, these birds primarily eat seeds, leaves, and during the breeding season, insects. Northern Bobwhites used to be quite abundant, but their population has declined sharply over the past 50 years due to habitat loss and degradation. Today, many states are trying to restore the bobwhite’s native habitat in an attempt to replenish their "near threatened" population.

When the bobwhite arrived, veterinary intern Dr. Emma and her team performed a thorough physical exam. The bobwhite’s left tarsometatarsus (a long bone composing part of a bird’s leg) was found to be fractured, as seen in this radiograph. Though injuries like this can be treated, the bobwhite’s small and delicate bone was unlikely to hold up with surgical repair, so Dr. Emma instead used splints to stabilize the fracture.


Note the fracture on the bottom right. The Northern Bobwhite getting a check-up. That delicate bone is only 3 mm thick! 

Since intake, the veterinary team reports that this bobwhite is bright, responsive, and actively using her left limb — all good signs. The prognosis for this bird remains guarded, however, as bobwhites are a highly stressed species in care, and only time will tell how well this injury heals. In the meantime, the bobwhite is enjoying her daily meals of finch seed, gamebird maintenance pellets, minced berries, and crickets.

The beak is not injured, she just has berries stuck on her beak.

If this bobwhite makes it to release, staff will choose a suitable release site close to where she was found to give her the best chance of success in the wild.

You can help support our work with native wildlife.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care for this bobwhite and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.


Patient Updates

Throughout December, Northern Bobwhite #23-3913 continued to improve. By January 1, the bird’s fracture had completely healed and the rehab team noted that the bobwhite was able to walk and fly well. The bobwhite was moved to one of the Center’s large outdoor aviaries so she could continue to rebuild her strength.

On January 8, the vet team examined the bobwhite and officially cleared her for release. The bobwhite was released on January 11 at a large field in Essex County, close to where she was originally rescued.