The mountain quail is a North American bird, and it is the largest member of the quail family found in its range. It has a grayish head, with a light brown back, and recognizable white colored stripes on the side. The neck is dark brown with white flourishes. Mountain quails have a round, stocky body and are about 11 inches long (28 cm) and weigh about 9 ounces (255 grams). These birds are secretive and often difficult to spot, but most experts think there has been a severe population decline since the 1960s, probably due to habitat destruction.
In terms of habitat, the mountain quail generally lives in secluded areas along the tree lines of mountainous terrain. They are most commonly found on the west coast of the United States. In the summer time, they usually stay very close to a drinkable water source. The mountain quail is not technically listed as an endangered species, but some areas have created laws to protect them. They used to be hunted very frequently, but in places such as Idaho and parts of Oregon this practice has been banned.
These birds tend to live in very dense areas, so they are rarely seen out in the open, which has made it very tough for researchers to learn a lot about their behavior patterns. It is known that they often live in groups of about 10 birds. They don’t tend to fly very much, and even if they are spotted, they will usually just run away unless the threat is very close.
Mountain quail are omnivorous, but most of their diet is vegetarian. They tend to change their diet on a seasonal basis depending on what foods they can find. For the most part, they eat different kinds of plants and nuts along with various insects.
After breeding, mountain quail dig their nests on the ground and line them with plant matter. The parents form a pair bond and help each other incubate the eggs. In most cases, females lay clutches of about 10 eggs, and the typical incubation period is approximately 25 days.
Once the chicks are born, they immediately begin feeding themselves. Parents take them to places were easy food can be found, and both parents help in this duty. Research suggests that the chicks eat more insects than the adults, and this is probably because they need more protein while growing. The birds have relatively short life spans, and only live to be about five years old in most cases.