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Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus


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Mountain Quail
credit: Quartl/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Odontophoridae, New World Quail view all from this family

Description ADULT Has brown upperparts and chestnut belly and flanks, the latter adorned with striking white bars (which "glow" in poor light). Breast is bluish lilac and throat is chestnut, defined by a white border. Note very long and straight head plume, which can be raised or lowered. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but white bars on flanks are indistinct and plumage is otherwise duller and marbled; head plume is shorter.

Dimensions Length: 10 1/2-11 1/2" (27-29 cm)

Habitat Rather uncommon and possibly declining, probably due to habitat destruction and degradation. Favors montane scrub and chaparral, to altitudes of up to 10,000ft.

Observation Tips Try to pinpoint a calling male, although this is easier said than done.

Range Rocky Mountains, Northwest, California, Western Canada, Southwest

Voice Male utters a shrill Quee-aark call.

Discussion Attractive and distinctive quail. Combination of chestnut throat, elegant straight head plume, and bold white bars on flanks is unique and diagnostic. Rather shy and male's distinctive call is heard more often than bird is seen. Sometimes seen in family groups, but otherwise not especially gregarious. Feeds on seeds, berries, acorns, and bulbs. Sexes are similar.