Mountain Quail

Mountain Quail Picture

Mountain Quail

A Mountain Quail is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Mountain Quails. We have also put together a list of fun Mountain Quail t-shirts, Mountain Quail bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.

About Mountain Quails

The Mountain Quail is a relatively large quail as compared to its fellow sub-species. It is described to have an exclamation mark at the top of its head. It is found in all mountain regions in the United States stretching to the western side.

Description and Identification

These round-bodied birds are 10 – 12 inches long with small heads, short tails, rounded
wings that span between 14 – 16 inches, and short legs. Two distinctive plumes stick up off
their heads and resemble a quill pen, with the top knots being longer in males than in
females. Adults generally have rich olive-brown plumages above with bluish-gray breasts
and chestnut flanks that are barred with black and white. They have chestnut-colored
throats and rusty under-tail coverts. Juveniles tend to have a scaly texture with less color on

Mountain Quail Color Pattern

They are short birds with long rounded wings and featherless legs. The unique feature for Mountain Quails is the top knot on their head which are shorter for females. Mountain Quails have brown faces and backs with a gray breast. They also have extreme white underparts.

Mountain Quail Size

Mountain Quails are a large species of quail that runs on the ground with its round body and a short tail. Their relative size includes:

  • Length 26 – 31 cm
  • Weight 189 – 262 g
  • Wingspan 35 – 40 cm
Mountain Quail

Mountain Quail Behavior

Mountain Quails are foragers using one foot or both feet to remove litter on the ground to expose seeds and small insects. They are a fast-moving breed, moving between undergrowth and bushes. They are secretive and have short, explosive flights with rapid wingbeats and a slow glide while landing.

What Mountain Quail Eat

Mountain Quails mostly follow herbivorous diets with the exception of small amounts of
insects that they consume for protein. Like other species in the quail family, they forage for
seeds and insects on the ground by either looking under leaf litters and stones or by digging
up small plant bulbs with their feet and bills. They also climb on trees and shrubs to pick
leaves and fruit. They require dense vegetation in order to ensure safe foraging. Their diet
varies throughout the year but includes small fruits of manzanita and poison ivy. Other items
in their menu include acorns, pine nuts, mushrooms, grass seeds, flowers, and seeds of smaller plants like clover, tarweed, and chickweed. During the summer, juveniles and
females also consume animal matter like beetles and ants.

Mountain Quails’ diet is made up mostly of seeds. Their chicks are more insectivorous than the adults but gradually take in more plant matter as they mature.

Where Mountain Quails Live

Mountain Quails are incredibly versatile and can be found in a variety of habitats. They are
found in both arid regions and wetlands but rarely opt for grasslands or open country
habitats that are occupied by the western species of the quail family. Instead, they tend to
opt for regions with dense understories and scrubby openings. At lower elevations, they are
found in the scrub habitats of the Mojave Desert – especially during the winter, when food
becomes scarce in higher altitudes. During the summers they can be found in coniferous
and mixed woodlands, where they inhabit openings with sagebrush and aspen. They can
also be found in burned or logged areas where second-growth shrubs are abundantly found.
In coastal and shrubsteppe regions, Mountain Quail’s frequent thickets include plants
like willow, manzanita, greasewood, blue elderberry, California lilac, big sagebrush,
bitterbrush, and some buckthorn species. They are also abundantly present in brushy
habitats along streams and rivers.

They are found at 3000 meters above sea level and do not migrate, but some flocks may migrate in some mountain ranges depending on the attitude.

Range and Migration

Mountain Quails are small ground-dwelling birds of the new-world quail family. They are
marked by their dramatic head plumes that resemble exclamation points and are generally
extremely elusive. They are found in the chaparral west of the Rocky Mountains in Canada
and the United States, with some populations also available in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.
They are permanent residents of their breeding grounds and do not migrate, but some
populations may move to lower altitudes during winter.

Mountain Quail Lifecycle

Mountain Quails are a monogamous species with the pair staying together through the breeding period. Female Mountain Quails lay 9 to 10 eggs in concealed growths and bushes usually close to water sources. She incubates the eggs for 21 to 25 days. The male helps incubation sometimes, but it is mainly done by the female. Mountain Quail chicks are mature and mobile since hatching and leave the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.

Mountain Quail Nesting

The nests are made by both males and females, with sites presumably selected by both
individuals of the pair as well. A depression is made in the vegetation by the male at the
base of some shrub within dense vegetation. These depressions are well-formed scrapes
that are later lined with grasses or pine needled by females. Their elusiveness has left
ornithologists with only rough estimates about the exact proportions of their nests. Females
can have as many as 9 – 15 eggs in a single clutch during the breeding season.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

    $20.00 / month
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  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
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  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Mountain Quail

The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Mountain Quails are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

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  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

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Mountain Quail T-shirts

If you love the Mountain Quail you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Mountain Quail Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Mountain Quail is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

  • Mountain Quail iron on patches

    Mountain Quail Iron on Patches

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  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

    Bird Banner

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Mountain Quail Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Mountain Quail. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month. 

Bird Feeders For Mountain Quail

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Mountain Quail

There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great. 

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