Quail are intricately patterned quail of Mexico and the southwestern U.S.
Sometimes referred to as the "Harlequin Quail" for the males bold facial
pattern, they are nonetheless difficult to observe in their normal grassy
habitat. When danger is sensed, they typically remain motionless, only
exploding into flight when a threat comes very close. They typically
require tall grass areas for feeding, and are negatively affected by
livestock grazing. Sharp local declines have been noted in grazed
areas of their range, including throughout Mexico. Nonetheless, they
are still considered a gamebird species throughout much of their range.
Habitat: They are most often found in areas of
tall grass with scattered trees, such oak savannahs. In higher
elevations, then can sometimes be found in openings in conifer forests.
Diet: Bulbs and tubers of certain plains make up a
large part of the diet in some seasons. They will also eat acorns,
nuts, seeds. Insects are also an important part of the diet in most
Behavior: Does much of its feeding by scratching
and digging on the ground for bulbs and tubers. They will also scratch
through vegetation litter in search of insects. Most foraging is done
as a covey, or by a mated pair. Covey size is smaller than many quail
species, often fewer than 10 birds in fall and winter.
Nesting: Montezuma Quail nest on the ground,
building a nest of grasses in a shallow depression, typically in an area of
tall grass. Female probably does most of the incubating, but both
parents will help to raise young.
Song: The male sings a descendeing, haunting
whistle, as well as making a series of other calls. When individual
birds in a covey are separated, a series of low whistling notes are used to
resassemble the covey.
Migration: Considered a permanent resident
throughout its range.
Distinctive facial pattern if seen well. Overally most similar quail
is the Northern Bobwhite.
Conservation Status: Populations of Montezuma Quail
have been negatively impacted by habitat loss. Heavy livestock grazing
has a strong negative impact on the species. They are listed as a
"watch species" nationally by Partners in Flight.
Image Information: Colored pencil drawing by Terry
Sohl - January 2012