Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) 

The Mountain Quail is also called the Blue Mountain Quail. It is one of the larger quail species and has and elegant long black head plume, white bordered brown face and throat, blue gray breast, grayish brown upperparts and a brown belly and side with white barring. Like most quail they have a quick explosive upward reaction to perceived danger.

Mountain Quail can be found from west of the Rocky Mountains in the United States to the Baja peninsula in Mexico.  The Mountain Quail has been introduced to Canada (British Columbia) and some areas of Washington State in the United States. They do not migrate but prefer one mountain range as long as food and water are plentiful.

Some interesting facts:

The Mountain Quail can be found in Rocky slopes of Mountain ranges and will seek food and shelter from one end of their range to the other.

The Mountain Quail is the largest quail in the United States.

The past 50 years have shown a great decline in parts of its range even though their secretive nature makes it difficult to do an accurate census.

A group of quails has many names including “drift”, “battery”, “flush”, “shake” and “rout” of quails.

The Mountain Quail is a much sought after quail for hunting.  They are said to be one of the most difficult quail to hunt.  The quail tend to prefer the higher elevations of mountain ranges with a mix of protective cover, lots of oaks, short grass and a nearby water source. Despite wild fires and extreme drought they have still been able to do well in their mountain ranges.  Their favorite native food source is acorns. Quail group, or covey, sizes tend to be smaller than other quail species and a family group may be from 6 to a dozen birds. 

The Mountain Quail prefers forest and shrub land although it can be found occasionally in arable conditions.  They have a large range, estimated globally at 350,000 square kilometers. The Mountain Quail is native to the United States, Mexico and Canada.  A population of 160,000 individuals is thought to be the global population number with a steady decline over the last 50 years.  The population is not considered endangered.