Birds – Plumed Or Mountain Partridges

Characterized by a tail of twelve feathers and a conspicuous crest of long black feathers are the Plumed or Mountain Partridges (Oreortyx), of which two or three well-marked forms are known, all of the extreme Western States. They are handsome birds, ten and a half to eleven and a half inches long, plain brown or olive above, and bluish gray and chestnut below, with the throat and fore neck margined by a white band, and the flanks barred with black and white; the females are similar except that the crest is usually smaller. The Mountain Partridge, or Mountain Quail (O. pictus), is found in the Pacific coast districts from Santa Barbara, California, to Washington, being confined to the moist mountainous regions where the rainfall is very heavy. In the dryer interior it is replaced by a lighter colored race, the Plumed Partridge (O. p. plumiferus), which occurs on both sides of the Sierra Nevada from Oregon southward. Both are resident and breeding wherever found, the latter, according to Bendire, being “essentially a bird of the mountains, where it is more partial to the open pine forests and rocky ridges, covered with chaparral and undergrowth, than to the densely timbered portions of the ranges. They are shy birds, preferring to escape by running rather than by taking wing, although they can fly swiftly if they will.” The call note of the male is a clear whistle, like ” whu-ie-whu-ie,” usually uttered from an old stump, the top of a rock, or a bush; “but when alarmed, a note like `quit-quit’ is used.” The nesting season begins early, and in the lower foot-hills two broods are often reared, but higher up in the mountains only one. The nest is concealed under a fallen tree-top, by the side of a log, or in tangled weeds and grass, and the eggs are sometimes as many as twenty, but usually only twelve or fifteen.