Mountain Quail

Oreortyx pictus
Range Map

The Mountain Quail is a shy bird. Often, the only way to know their presence is by hearing their calls. True to its name, these birds prefer higher elevations from California and north through Oregon.

Taxonomists recognise five subspecies of Mountain Quail:

  • O. p. palmeri lives in western Coast Ranges from Washington south to San Luis Obispo Co., California.
  • O. p. pictus lives in California from the central Sierra Nevada and interior Coast Ranges of northern California north to the western Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington.
  • O. p. eremophilus lives in southern Sierra Nevada, and south of San Luis Obispo County in the central Coast Ranges of California, south through the Transverse, Peninsular, and southern Coastal Ranges of southern California. to the Mexican border.
  • O. p. russelli lives in the Little San Bernardino Mountains in southeastern California.
  • O. p. confinis lives in northern Baja California (Mexico).

All my image captures of Mountain Quail came during missions on behalf of the San Diego Natural History Museum. Often, when I’ve visited the high back country of San Diego County, I’ve heard their piercing calls echoing through the hillsides. Getting them to pose for a picture is not as easy. My first capture was in 2002, while I was gathering images for the San Diego County Bird Atlas. I collected my second set of shots while working with the team on the San Jacinto Resurvey. I’ve found my volunteer work with the museum has been some of the most rewarding episodes of my life, and I’ll always treasure my memories of those times.



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