Breeding Bird: MOUNTAIN QUAIL (Oreortyx pictus)
Description: Chicken-like in size and appearance, this bird is distinguished by two long, straight head plumes. It is gray and brown above with gray breast; chestnut-colored throat is outlined in white; chestnut sides are barred in white. Female is duller overall with slightly shorter plumes. Smaller juvenile is gray below with long plumes. Length: 11 inches.
Habitat: Chaparral and brushy ravines.
Diet: Gleans grass seeds, clover and greens along with some berries and insects.
Displays: Male partially spreads wings and fluffs chest.
Nest: Shallow depression lined with grass and feathers, often found next to base of tree or fallen log; concealed by shrubs.
Eggs: Pale pink and buff, unmarked. Length: 1.4 inches.
Call: A quiet wook? or to-wook? , repeated in intervals. Male mating call is a loud quee-ark that can be heard up to a mile away.
Notes: An enthusiastic imitation of the mating call may lure mountain quail out of hiding.
Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas, call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.
Map indicates 5-kilometer-square areas where breeding activity has been confirmed.
Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.
Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; “The Birder’s Handbook,” Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); “Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” National Geographic Society (1987); “Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution,” Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).