Scaled Quail, Callipepla squamata, Palmer's Pigweed, Amaranthus palmeri, Food Energetics


Palmer’s pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri) is a common grassland plant that occurs across much of North America. It is often considered a weed but is an important source of food for many game birds. We analyzed the energy content of seeds of Palmer’s pigweed obtained from the crops of scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) collected from plains-mesa sand-scrub habitat in Eddy and Lea counties, New Mexico. Seeds were dried for 48 hours at 60°C to remove moisture and then analyzed for gross caloric value (i.e., energy content) in an oxygen bomb calorimeter. Energy content of seeds of Palmer’s pigweed from New Mexico averaged 16.6 J/kg (4.0 kcal/g), and was among the lowest values obtained when compared to those of many seeds previously reported from the diet of scaled quail and other granivorous birds.