Mountain Quail

General description.

The Mountain Quail is the largest of its species in North America. In addition to the head plume, which dips and waves when the quail runs and pecks for food, this striking bird is recognized by the vertical white bars on its rusty flanks. It is sightly brown above with blue-gray coloring on its neck and breast with rust colored cheek and throat, set off by a white vertical stripe. The Mountain Quail has a stocky body, thick short legs and large toes for running and scratching with its blunt bill, which it uses for crushing seeds.

Female appearance.

Same markings, but less spectacular. Her "topknot" is shorter than the male's.

Flight pattern.

A speedy walker through scrub, this bird makes short, explosive flights of several rapid wingbeats just above ground, followed by a glide downward.

Breeding habits.

These birds do not produce every year.

Calls or song.

The Mountain Quail voices an isolated, mellow "quee-ark". When alarmed, they issue high pitched whistled notes.

Population and distribution.

Even though this bird is called a "Mountain" Quail, it remains in dense cover among the wooded foothills of Baja, California, Idaho and Washington.

Nesting habits.

The female lays 9-10 eggs in a scrape, covered by vegetation, placed at the base of a tree or shrub. The chicks hatch during a three day period, unusual for quail.

Similar birds:

California Quail Photo California Quail
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