Oreortyx Pictus – Mountain Quail

Oreortyx Pictus - Mountain Quail in the US

Small ground-dwelling New World quail, Oreortyx pictus is commonly known as mountain quail. The genus Oreortyx is sometimes classified in Callipepla. The mountain quail split from other New World quail species earlier than the bobwhites, around 6 million years ago.

Quick Overview: Oreortyx Pictus – Mountain Quail
Body size: Around 11 in (28 cm) and a weight of 232 g (8.2 oz)
Main colors: Gray, White, Red-Brown,
Range: Rocky Mountains of United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Mountain Quail Description

Mountain quail have big, strong bodies with a color spectrum from gray to white to reddish-brown. Younger quails are less colorful. Mountain quail have two little pointed protrusions from their heads. Like the quill pen’s feathers. Female quail quill-like feathers are smaller than males. Mountain quail live on the ground.

Oreortyx Pictus - Mountain Quail in the US
Oreortyx Pictus – Mountain Quail. Source: Wikipedia


These birds have a length of 11 in (28 cm) and a weight of 232 g (8.2 oz). Their wings could range from 14-16.5 in (36-42 cm).


Mountain quail diets vary greatly depending on the season and what is available. They eat a lot of seeds and acorns, as well as berries and flowers. These birds are omnivores, eating both plants and animals. Mountain quail will eat microscopic insects or fungi if available.


Mountain quail live in altitudes of 610-3,050 meters (2,000-10,000 ft). In chaparral or wooded woodlands, they like extensive ground cover. Their covert nature allows them to hide under bushes and another low cover.


They fly in spurts and flap their wings quickly when challenged. They are not sociable. They grow up in groups of about twenty. To evade predators, they keep their surroundings hidden. In the wild, they are difficult to see since they feed or rest low. Males on the verge of courting have been seen circling females. Females have been seen bowing to show men their humility.

Oreortyx Pictus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Odontophoridae
  • Genus: Oreortyx
  • Species: Oreortyx pictus

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Mountain Quail in the USA

It is found west of the Rocky Mountains, from the United States to the Baja peninsula of Mexico, in hilly chaparral. Introduced to British Columbia, Canada, and portions of Washington State, California, and Arizona.

Oreortyx Pictus – Mountain Quail

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