New World quail
|New World quail|
|California quail, Callipepla californica|
The New World quails or Odontophoridae are small birds only distantly related to the Old World quail, but named for their similar appearance and habits. The American species are in their own family Odontophoridae, whereas Old World quail are in the pheasant family Phasianidae. The family ranges from Canada through to southern Brazil, and two species, the California quail and the bobwhite quail, have been successfully introduced to New Zealand. A variety of habitats are used by the family from tropical rainforest to deserts, although few species are capable of surviving at very low temperatures. Thirty-two species are placed in nine genera.
New World quail are generally short-winged, -necked and -tailed (although the genus Dendrortyx is long-tailed). The bills are short, slightly curved and serrated. The legs are short and powerful, and lack the spurs of many Old World galliformes. Although they are capable of short bursts of strong flight New World quails prefer to walk, and will run from danger (or hide), taking off explosively only as a last resort. Plumage varies from dull to spectacular, and many species have ornamental crests or plumes on the head. There is moderate sexual dichromism in plumage, with males having brighter plumage.
Behaviour and ecology
The New World quails are shy diurnal birds and generally live on the ground; even the tree quails which roost in high trees generally feed mainly on the ground. They are generalists with regards to their diet, taking insects, seeds, vegetation and tubers. Desert species in particular consume a lot of seeds.
Most of the information about the breeding biology of New World quails comes from North American species, which have been better studied than those of the Neotropics. The family is generally thought to be monogamous, and nest are constructed on the ground. Clutch sizes are large, a situation typical within the Galliformes, ranging from three to six eggs for the tree quail and wood quail, and as high as 10-15 for the northern bobwhite. Incubation takes between 16 and 30 days depending on the species. Chicks are precocial and quickly leave the nest to accompany the parents in large family groups.
Northern bobwhite and California quail are popular gamebirds, with many taken by hunters, but these species have also had their ranges increased to meet hunting demand and are not threatened. They are also artificially stocked. Some species are threatened by human activity, such as the bearded tree quail of Mexico, which is threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting.
- Genus Dendrortyx
- Genus Oreortyx
- Mountain quail, Oreortyx pictus
- Genus Callipepla
- Genus Philortyx
- Banded quail, Philortyx fasciatus
- Genus Colinus
- Genus Odontophorus
- Marbled wood quail, Odontophorus gujanensis
- Spot-winged wood quail, Odontophorus capueira
- Black-eared wood quail, Odontophorus melanotis
- Rufous-fronted wood quail, Odontophorus erythrops
- Black-fronted wood quail, Odontophorus atrifrons
- Chestnut wood quail, Odontophorus hyperythrus
- Dark-backed wood quail, Odontophorus melanonotus
- Rufous-breasted wood quail, Odontophorus speciosus
- Tacarcuna wood quail, Odontophorus dialeucos
- Gorgeted wood quail, Odontophorus strophium
- Venezuelan wood quail, Odontophorus columbianus
- Black-breasted wood quail, Odontophorus leucolaemus
- Stripe-faced wood quail, Odontophorus balliviani
- Starred wood quail, Odontophorus stellatus
- Spotted wood quail, Odontophorus guttatus
- Genus Dactylortyx
- Singing quail, Dactylortyx thoracicus
- Genus Cyrtonyx
- Genus Rhynchortyx
- Tawny-faced quail, Rhynchortyx cinctus
- del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors). (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-15-6