10 1/2-11 1/2" (26-29 cm). Gray from head, down back of neck, and on breast; dark, rust red bordered by white on chin and front of neck. Brown wings and tail. White, black and orange-rust scaling on belly. Long, straight, black plume on top of head. Immatures and females have shorter plumes.
Similar Species- Gambel's and California Quails
A mellow, whistled whook?
Resident from southwestern British Columbia, western and southern Washington, and central Idaho, south through mountains of California and northern and western Nevada, to northern Baja California and Mexico.
Found in brushy mountainsides, coniferous forests, forest and meadow edges, and dense undergrowth. Also found in more arid conditions in sagebrush, pinyon and juniper. In Idaho, favors areas with tall dense shrubs that are close to water.
Builds concealed nest in depression on ground, frequently near shrub, base of tree, or fallen log. Forages on ground, usually in early morning and late afternoon; rests at mid-day. Forms coveys of 3- 20 birds in late summer and early fall; covey disperses in late winter. Daily range varies by season (less than 920 m in winter, and less than 800 m in summer). Study conducted in different California habitats found 9-30 individuals may inhabit 100 ha. Population in Idaho has been declining for last 30 yr (1960-90), possibly due to riparian habitat degredation. Recent Idaho study points to predation by feral cats as a problem.
Heekin, P.E., R. Guse, C. Connell, K.P. Reese, and P.M. Zager. 1993. Mountain quail ecology -- job progress report, Study I, Job I. Idaho Dept. Fish & Game, Boise. 15pp.