Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mountain Quail

Oreortyx pictus
The Mountain Quail is the largest Quail in the United States. They have a very striking appearance, with brown faces, gray bodies, and bold brown and white banding on the underside. Both males and females sport the iconic head plume, though it is more pronounced in the males.

Ground foraging is the Quails' method of feeding. They are an omnivorous species that consumes nuts, seeds, and the occasional insect. Juveniles and adult females tend to eat more insects than adult males, and young males will become more and more herbivorous as they age.

Mountain Quails are monogamous, and both parents incubate and care for the brood of 10-12. Chicks are precocial, meaning that they are up and about following their parents very soon after birth. Mountain Quails live in very small groups (called Coveys) that typically number fewer than 10 adult birds.

Due to their small Covey sizes and elusive behavior, it is difficult to determine exactly how many Mountain Quails are out there. We do know that habitat loss has been a contributor to population decline, as numbers have continued to shrink even in the states that have banned their hunting. Despite some of these local declines, the large range of the Mountain Quail has kept them listed as being of Least Concern.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America, west of the Rocky Mountains
Size : Weighs up to 9oz (255g), Length 12in (30cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Galliformes
Family : Odontophoridae -- Genus : Oreortyx -- Species : O. pictus

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