Amaze-wing Facts About The Mountain Quail For Kids

Mountain Quail facts are fun to learn about.

Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) is a small bird belonging to the order Galliformes commonly found in North America. They are part of the New World Quail family and are the largest birds among all North American Quails. Their distinct long head plumes and a chestnut brown body gives it a striking appearance. These birds can move swiftly through bushes and their flights are short with rapid wingbeats. Mountain Quails are secretive in nature and are very difficult to spot as they prefer to nest in deep covers. They are often confused with the California Quail as they look similar in appearance, but the Mountain quail is slightly larger in size. The most unique characteristic of this quail is its vertical migration. Keep on reading to learn more interesting facts about the California mountain quail.

If you like reading about birds, be sure to check out California quail and evening grosbeak.

Mountain Quail

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

9-10 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.46 -0.57 lb (210-262 g)

How long are they?

Body: 10.2-12.2 in (26-31 cm)

Wingspan: 14-16 in (35–40 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Greyish brown

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Predators, humans, habitat loss

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Deep shrub in mountains, Coniferous forest, chaparral, deep thickets, scrubby openings


Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Transverse, Baja Peninsula, British Columbia





Scientific Name

Oreortyx pictus





Mountain Quail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Mountain Quail?

A Mountain Quail is a type of bird.

What class of animal does a Mountain Quail belong to?

Mountain Quail birds belong to the class Aves.

How many Mountain Quails are there in the world?

There has not been enough research to calculate the total population of Mountain Quails in the world.

Where does a Mountain Quail live?

Populations of Mountain Quails can mostly be found in the mountains or chaparral of North America like Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Transverse, and Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Some Mountain Quails can also be located in few areas of Washington as well as in British Columbia. So if you look for them, you'll find them in these places.

What is a Mountain Quail's habitat?

Mountain Quail habitat consists of dense brushes, shrubs in mountains, and wooded foothills. They can commonly be found in coniferous forests, pine-oak woodland, and chaparral. At lower elevations, Mountain Quails can be located at scrubby openings with sagebrush. The habitat of the Quail also includes deep thickets and they nest close to water sources.

Who do Mountain Quails live with?

Mountain quails form coveys or small family groups and stay in them for the majority of the year. The family groups found at Joshua Tree National Monument have about 3-20 birds in each covey.

How long does a Mountain Quail live?

This North American Quail belonging to order Galliformes and the New world Quail family has a lifespan of 1-4 years.

How do they reproduce?

These North American birds are monogamous in nature. Both the parents play an active role in incubation and also assist in the development of the young. Their nests are mostly concealed and found on the ground near a dense cover of shrubs. Their nests are lined with needles, grass, leaves, and feathers. In California, Mountain Quails start mating in February and March. Female Mountain Quails typically lay 9-10 eggs. The incubation period lasts between 21-25 days. The chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching. The parents look after the chicks and lead them to food sources. They also actively defend their young and lure away potential predators.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN has given the status of Least Concern to these North American birds. Their population is noted to be pretty stable.

Mountain Quail Fun Facts

What do Mountain Quails look like?

Mountain Quail facts are interesting.

Mountain Quails are ground-dwelling birds with short tails. They are greyish brown in color and have distinct bold white bars and rufous under-tails. Their small heads have two long and thin feather head plumes, which make them easy to spot. They also have a chestnut brown throat patch with a creamy white stripe. The male and female mountain quails are similar in appearance but you can differentiate between them as the latter is duller in appearance and has a shorter plume.

How cute are they?

These birds with their round bodies, short tails, and distinct plumes appear to be really cute. Their rufous tail acts as a stark contrast to its greyish brown body and is very pleasing to look at.

How do they communicate?

Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) communicate with each other using a bird call that can be described as a loud echoing kyork. Their calls also include soft whistle notes. Mountain Quails also participate in 'courtship feeding', in which the female is presented with food by their male counterparts, who bows to her with his tail feathers and flank. The courting male also at times walks back and forth while flaring the feathers of the neck and flank in presence of the female. Mountain Quails are also known to crouch in front of a potential mate. Males engage in pecking at their rivals and also chase them during the spring.  

How big is a Mountain Quail?

Adult Mountain Quail populations are 10.2-12.2 in (26-31 cm) long and their wingspan has a length of about 14-16 in (35–40 cm) which is almost twice the size of a house sparrow.

How fast can a Mountain Quail fly?

The top speed recorded for these birds of North America is approximately 39.7 mph 64 kph.

How much does a Mountain Quail weigh?

An adult Mountain Quail of the New World Quail family can weigh anywhere between 7.2-9.4 oz (210-262 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male Mountain Quail bird can be referred to as cocks and the female bird can be referred to as hen.

What would you call a baby Mountain Quail?

The young hatchlings of Mountain Quail bird are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

Mountain Quail are herbivores. The Mountain Quail bird diet can vary throughout the year. The majority of their diet consists of a variety of fruits and seeds. The fruits include grapes, gooseberries, snowberries, hackberries. During the winters, these quails feed on acorns, pine seeds, and seasonal greens. Around springtime, their diet mainly consists of leaves, buds, and flowers. The chicks are more insectivorous than adults and start consuming more plant matter when they grow.

Are they dangerous?

These small birds are generally shy in nature. They are not dangerous and cause no harm to human beings.

Would they make a good pet?

It is not advisable to keep a Mountain Quail bird as a pet. Providing them with the varied ideal temperature throughout the year would prove to be a challenge. They also have a high mortality rate when kept in captivity.

Did you know...

Mountain Quail eggs are creamy, pinkish with no speckles on them. They are roughly 1.4-1.5 in (3.5-3.8 cm) long and one in (0.4 cm) wide.

Activities like grazing, agriculture leads to a loss of habitat and is a major conservation challenge. Developing small reservoirs in areas with good quail cover and installing bird guzzlers can help in bird conservation.

The Mountain Quail's call

The announcement call made by the unmated male is the most popular call. The location call, made during the onset of mating by the males sounds like a clear whistle, which becomes lower pitched towards the end and sounds like 'kyork' or 'pu-ark'. These calls are made to make the females aware of their location. These calls can go on for 6-7  minutes at approximately 8-9 seconds apart.

Mountain Quails can also be heard singing the 'assembly call' or the 'rally call' to reunite with the separated birds. This call is loud and sounds like 'kow kow kow' or 'cle cle cle'.  Other calls can include a 'shrill sounding', and 'quaih-quaih' to distract a predator.  

The Mountain Quail's migration

Mountain Quails breed in cooler climates and at much higher temperatures than any other North American Quail. The Quail participates in a unique vertical migration. The migrations are usually done by foot, though some birds like to fly across the canyons. They migrate to higher spots during the spring and summer months and migrate back to lower places with their coveys to avoid the snow. These elevations can range from 2296.6 ft (700 m) to as high as 9842.5 ft (3000 m). In their winter habitat, their movement is slow and they manage to cover a maximum distance of 1000 yd per day. There is very little movement undertaken during the summer months.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including secretary bird, or belted kingfisher.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Mountain Quail coloring pages.



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