Distribution in the Americas
The "Spot-bellied Bobwhite" (leucopogon Group) ranges from western Guatemala south to central Costa Rica (Paraíso de Cartago, to the east of the Central Valley), along the Pacific dry forest of the Pacific slope. The distribution includes El Salvador, southern and central Honduras and western Nicaragua, and it occurs from sea level up to 1700 m (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Madge and McGowan 2002).
The "Crested Bobwhite" (cristatus Group) is distributed from the Costa Rican/Panamanian border south, on the Pacific slope, to northwestern Colombia, and east along the Caribbean and the Atlantic slopes to northeastern Brazil, including Venezuela (with Margarita Island), Guyana, Aruba and Curaçao. In this region it occurs from sea level up to 2200 m (Hilty and Brown 1986, Johnsgard 1988, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Madge and McGowan 2002). It has also been introduced in the Grenadines and St. Thomas (Johnsgard 1988).
Both the "Spot-bellied Bobwhite" and the "Crested Bobwhite" inhabit open areas with dense tall grass, sometimes with scattered trees or at the edge of second growth. At least in Costa Rica the "Spot-bellied Bobwhite" (leucopogon Group) has been adapted to areas of shade coffee plantations, pastures and dense brush within the Central Valley, which are wetter than the native habitat of this quail (Mesoamerican dry forest; Barrantes and Sánchez 2003).
Little information, although the reduction of forest cover within its range to create pasture may have increased the available habitat, favoring the colonization of new sites.
No data specifically for this species. There are fossils of the genus Colinus from Texas, Kansas and Arizona, USA during the Oligocene. The current species of Colinus originated during the Pleistocene, from which time there also are fossils from Florida (Holman 1961).