Birds – Scaled Partridges

In all the remaining members of this group the tail is decidedly shorter than the wing, although in the first genus to be considered (Callipepla) it is rather more than two thirds the length of the wing. This genus is further distinguished by having a tail of fourteen feathers, a small and weak bill, and a short crest which does not extend much beyond the feathers of the head. This includes the Scaled Partridges, of which only two forms are distinguished, although it was formerly made to include several forms now accorded generic rank. They are rather handsome little birds, ten or twelve inches long, light brownish or grayish above, with the hind neck, upper back, chest, and sides bluish gray, each feather edged with black, thus producing a scaled appearance. The remainder of the under parts are buffy with white streaks along the flanks, and the crest is also tipped with white. The Scaled Partridge, Blue Quail, or White Top-knot Quail (C. squamata), as it is variously called, is a constant resident in northwestern Mexico and the contiguous border of the United States, from the high plateaus and table-lands having an elevation of between 1500 and some 7000 feet, between the principal water courses. ” These barren and rocky foot-hills and table-lands are covered in places with a dry, harsh vegetation consisting of different species of cacti, stunted yuccas, catclaw-mimosa, creosote, and dwarf sage-bushes, where the soil is so parched that scarcely anything else will flourish, and where nearly every shrub is covered with sharp spines or thorns; such places I found to be the favorite home of the Scaled Partridge.”—BENDIRE. I have myself observed them in somewhat similar situations below Santa Fé, New Mexico. Although frequently found miles from water, they are said to make daily visits, usually late in the afternoon, to the drinking places. During the summer they go about in family parties, but toward fall two or three such parties may unite and occasionally as many as sixty or eighty are seen in a covey. When flushed they scatter and fly for short distances, and then alight and run among the bushes with great swiftness, rarely taking wing unless closely pushed. The nesting season begins about May r, and two or three broods are sometimes raised in a season. The nest, always on the ground, is placed in a great variety of situations, such as rocky hillsides, alfalfa meadows, corn and grain fields, and not rarely in open barren fiats. The number of eggs ranges from nine to sixteen, the usual number being eleven or twelve. In color they vary from creamy white to pale buff, often thickly spotted with brown. The Scaled Partridge feeds on seeds, berries, grain, tender buds, as well as insects of various kinds, and is esteemed for food, immense numbers often being trapped, and sold in the cities of New Mexico and Arizona. Another well-marked species (C. castanogastris) is found in eastern Mexico and the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. It differs from the typical form in having a large patch of rusty chestnut on the abdomen.