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Quail in Oregon

Mountain Quail

Oreortyx picta

Mountain QuailMountain quail are native birds found on both sides of the Cascades. They are brush lovers, usually existing in widely separated family groups rather than large coveys like valley quail. They are larger than valley quail. Mountain quail thrive in the natural brushlands of southwestern Oregon and are also found in northwestern Oregon when suitable habitat is created by logging, fire or other disturbance. Greatest abundance occurs in southwestern Oregon, with numbers gradually decreasing as one moves north.

Eastside populations are strongly dependent on brushy and diverse riparian habitat, and have disappeared or declined from many areas where they formerly lived as they have throughout the inter-mountain regions of the west. Because of the low numbers and the uncertain status of populations, no open season is held in much of eastern Oregon.

Currently, many of these habitat areas are once again improving, holding out the strong possibility for population improvement through trap and transplant. A research effort is currently underway to evaluate this technique.

Southwestern Oregon provides by far the best mountain quail hunting in the state. Because of the brushy and often steep nature of mountain quail habitat, and the tendency for birds to run in heavy cover, they are among the most difficult of Oregon's upland birds to hunt successfully.

Since coveys may be widely separated, a popular hunting method involves driving logging roads until birds are seen at which time hunters stop to hunt on foot. Once a covey is located it will probably not be far away on future visits.

The mountain quail is one of Oregon's lesser hunted upland species.

Mountain Quail Translocation Project

Distribution Map (jpg)


Valley (California) Quail

Callipepla californica

Valley QuailThe valley quail is a native species originally confined to the counties bordering California and Nevada. They were transplanted to other areas of the state so long ago (beginning as early as 1870) that most Oregonians do not realize they were introduced in most of Oregon.

Valley quail are adaptable birds and may be found associated with agricultural and urban areas, as well as in riparian habitats located miles from human habitation. Within these areas, however, valley quail habitat needs are rather specific. Valley quail feed on a wide variety of plant species, most of which we know as weeds. They need a combination of brushy escape cover with adequate roosting areas (off the ground) and more open areas for feeding. They are seldom found far from water.

Valley quail are somewhat vulnerable to severe winter conditions, but populations have generally been fairly stable over a long period of time in eastern Oregon. Because they nest somewhat later than most other upland species, they often are unaffected by late spring storms which can reduce nesting success and chick survival for other species. In western Oregon numbers declined during the late 1970s, probably due to changing agriculture, but have remained relatively stable since.

Valley quail are among Oregon's most widely distributed game birds. You may find them associated with pheasants on agricultural land, or with chukars along brushy stream courses in sage brush environments, or by themselves wherever their specific habitat needs are met. They are most often hunted in conjunction with other species but can provide excellent hunting when pursued as a primary species.

Valley quail are often detected by their distinctive call which seems to say "Chicago". They are a covey-loving bird and wintering groups may number over 100. Quail and brushy environments go together like ham and eggs, so a good dog is an especially useful companion for hunting valley quail.

Distribution Map (jpg)


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