Oreortyx pictus
(Mountain Quail)


Order: Galliformes
Order Description: Pheasant, Grouse, Turkey, Quail
Family: Phasianidae
Family Description: Pheasant, Grouse, Turkey, Quail

Physical Description:
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 plumesClick word for definition.

Similar Species- Gambel's and California Quails

Song:
A mellow, whistled whook?

Distribution:
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.

Habitat:
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.

Diet:
In spring and summer, feeds on herbaceousClick word for definition vegetation (especially leaves, buds, and flowers of legumes) and some insects (grasshoppers, beetles, and ants). Eats seeds, acorns, and fruits during rest of year. Idaho study determined fringecup and thistle seeds dominated summer diet; elderberry fruits were important in fall.

Ecology:
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 riparianClick word for definition habitat degredation. Recent Idaho study points to predation by feral cats as a problem.

Reproduction:
Female (sometimes male) incubatesClick word for definition 7-10 eggs for 24-25 days. precocialClick word for definition nestlings are tended by both parents, or by either adult. Young can fly about 14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABNLC24010
Status: Game species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
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.


Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.