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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Mountain Quail -- Oreortyx pictus

RANGE: Resident from southwestern British Columbia, western and southern Washington, and central Idaho south through the mountains of California and northern and western Nevada to Baja California.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits open montane forests with a well-developed brushy understory, steep slopes around edges of mountain meadows, and in logged or burned-over forests, from 1,500 to 10,000 feet. In California, breeds from chaparral up to lodgepole pine forests, preferring areas with much shrubbery and low percent canopy cover. During winter, moves to a lower elevation and occupies a habitat of mixed trees, brush, and herbs that produce mast and seeds.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Water during the breeding season.

NEST: Nests on the ground, in a well-concealed site, often under fallen pine branches, in weeds or shrubs, at the base of large trees, or beside large rocks. Nests are always near water.

FOOD: Forages on the ground and in low shrubs for food. Consumes leaves, flowers, and buds of succulent vegetation; mast; pine seeds; tubers, roots, and bulbs; seeds and fruits; and insects.

REFERENCES: Gutierrez 1979-1980, Johnsgard 1975a, Ormiston 1966, Terres 1980, Verner and Boss 1980.

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