Mountain quail are small ground-dwelling birds in the New World quail family. They have relatively short, rounded wings and long, featherless legs. These birds are easily recognized by their top knots, which are shorter in the female. They have a brown face, gray breast, brown back and primaries, and heavily white barred underside.
Mountain quail inhabit west of the Rocky Mountains, from the United States to the Baja peninsula Mexico. These birds are non-migratory, however, some populations may be altitudinal migrants in some mountain ranges. They inhabit mountainous chaparral, coniferous and mixed forests. During hot months they can often be found in brushy habitats along streams and rivers.
Mountain quail are diurnal and spend most of their time on the ground; they primarily move about by walking and can move surprisingly quickly through brush and undergrowth. They may also jump or climb into trees or shrubs to reach leaves or berries. Any flight is usually short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats followed by a slow glide to the ground. Mountain quail are gregarious only in the late summer, fall, and winter, when the adults and immature young congregate into family groups that may contain up to 20 birds.
Mountain quail are monogamous; they form pair bonds and both parents assist in raising the young. The female typically lays 9 to 10 eggs in a simple scrape concealed in vegetation, often at the base of a tree or shrub and usually close to water. Incubation lasts from 21-25 days, usually performed by the female and rarely by the male. The chicks are precocial; they hatch fully developed and are able to leave the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.
Mountain quail are not considered threatened at present, being plentiful across their wide range. However, despite that these birds suffer from habitat loss mainly due to urbanization, expansion of agriculture, and grazing.
According to the What Bird resource, the total population size of the Mountain quail is around 160,000 individuals. According to the All About Birds resource the total breeding population size of this species is 260,000 breeding birds. Overall, currently, Mountain quail are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are stable.