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Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus

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Despite being one of the largest quail (27 cm length), Mountain Quail provides a challenge for birders who will usually hear its loud, two-part whistle many times before seeing one. A resident of the western United States north to Washington and Idaho, Mountain Quail’s Mexican distribution is limited to mountain ranges in northern Baja California. Always associated with dense cover, the Mountain Quail inhabits a variety of vegetation types including chaparral-covered slopes, desert scrub, pine forests and pine-oak woodland. Adult males and females are alike—largely grey with a chestnut throat outlined in white, a chestnut belly with white barring on the flanks and a long, dark and straight head plume. Plumage is broadly similar to the California Quail (Callipepla californica), with which it may occur; note the latter’s tan, scaled breast, dark unbarred belly, and arching head plume.

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Male advertisement queerk or quee-erk calls

© Geoffrey A Keller

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/mouqua