Marbled Wood-Quail Odontophorus gujanensis

  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Odontophoridae
  • Polytypic: 8 subspecies
  • Authors: Clark Frederick Johnson


Geographic Variation

Eight subspecies recognized:

castigatus Bangs 1901.

Occurs in southwestern Costa Rica and, formerly, extreme western Panama.

Crown and crest relatively uniform in color, often reddish brown. "Neck and upper back brown or olivaceous; chin and throat darker, with less gray or white barring and spotting" (Blake 1977).

marmoratus Gould 1844

Occurs from eastern Panama east on both slopes to the northern Colombia in the Cauca and Magdalena valleys, and in northwestern Venezuela.

Crest duskier and usually flecked with cinnamon. "Plumage above darker, the neck and upper back essentially black and gray, distinct from upperparts; whitish spots and fine bars of chin and throat more extensive; posterior underparts more conspicuously barred" (Blake 1977).

medius Chapman 1929

Occurs in southern Venezuela and in extreme northwestern Brazil.

Underparts bright ochraceous tawny (as in nominate gujanensis), but sides of head and throat grayish (as in buckleyi). "Somewhat like marmoratus, but undersurface brighter, and gray of throat almost uniform, not spotted or barred with white" (Blake 1977).

gujanensis Gmelin 1789

Occurs in southeastern Venezuela, across the Guianas, and eastern Brazil (on both sides of the Amazon), from the east side of Negro and Madeira rivers south to Mato Grosso.

"Similar above to marmoratus, but pileum [crown] and crest more reddish brown, less dusky; hindneck and upper back similarly grayish, finely vermiculated black; lower back, rump, and upper tail coverts pale olive brown, virtually uniform, and usually without black markings; sides of head, chin, and throat rufous, the last sometimes tinged gray; undersurface of body virtually uniform tawny ochraceous, the sides and flanks sometimes sparsely spotted or barred with black" (Blake 1977).

buckleyi Chubb 1919

Occurs from southern Colombia, near the base of the Andes, south to northern Peru, north of the Río Marañón.

"Sides of head and throat grayish or grayish buff. Similar to the nominate race below, but duller, less ochraceous, and with heavier, more conspicuous dusky markings" (Blake 1977).

pachyrhynchus Tschudi 1844

Occurs in central Peru.

"Sides of head, chin, and throat distinctly rufous, as in gujanensis; undersurface of body darker and more prominently barred; bill much thicker" (Blake 1977).

rufogularis Blake 1959

Occurs in northeastern Peru along the Río Javari.

"Similar to pachyrhynchus, but sides of head, sides of neck, and entire throat rufous chestnut, rather sharply defined posteriorly; underparts much grayer and duskier, less ochraceous, the barring obsolescent or lacking; rump and upper tail coverts darker olive; bill decidedly heavier. Differs from duskiest examples of buckleyi mainly in the rufous coloring of the head, reduction or loss of the ventral barring, and larger bill ... Geographically and in body plumage rufogularis is nearest buckleyi, from which it is separated by the Río Marañón. Although combining the reddish head of pachyrhynchus and body plumage of buckleyi, these characters are much accentuated in rufogularis, and intermediacy seems improbable" (Blake 1977).

simonsi Chubb 1919

Occurs in eastern Bolivia.

"Palest of the races. Similar to typical gujanensis, but paler, less reddish above and below; crown duller, more grayish brown, the crest feathers tipped black. Sides of head and chin tawny, not rufous; throat and foreneck essentially grayish; breast pale tawny, shading to pale buffy gray on posterior underparts; ventral surface of body without dark markings" (Blake 1977).

Related Species

Until recently, the new world quails were considered a subfamily of the Phasianidae. More recent genetic evidence suggests that they are not closely related to turkeys, pheasants, and old world quails or grouse, indicating that divergence occurred about 63 million years ago in South America during its isolation from North America (Carroll 1994). Thus, New World quails have been raised from the level of subfamily to family, as the Odontophoridae (AOU 1998).

Based on osteological examination, Gutiérrez et al. (1983) proposed the Odontophoridae be regarded as a monophyletic group divided in two groups: the Odontophorus group (includng Odontophorus, Dactylortyx, Cyrtonyx, and Rhynchortyx) and the Dendortyx group (containing Dendrortyx, Philortyx, Oreortyx, Colinus, Callipepla, and Lophortyx). Southern Mexico and Guatemala are considered the center of radiation of this family because the presence of most generalized species and the region with the highest number of genera.

Recommended Citation

Johnson, C. F. (2011). Marbled Wood-Quail (Odontophorus gujanensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.