|Conservation status||Has disappeared from much of the northern part of its range, and has declined seriously even in more southern areas. The causes for these declines are not well understood. At northern edge of range, many may be killed by unusually harsh winters, but this does not explain its widespread vanishing act. The "Masked Bobwhite," a subspecies extinct in Arizona and endangered in Mexico, is now being reintroduced into southern Arizona with only limited success.|
|Family||New World Quail|
|Habitat||Farms, brushy open country, roadsides, wood edges. Found in a wide variety of semi-open habitats, including brushy meadows, overgrown fields, or where pastures or agricultural fields are next to hedgerows or woodlots. "Masked Bobwhite" of southwest inhabits ungrazed native grasslands.|
Forages by walking on ground, head down, searching for food by sight; sometimes moves up into vines or shrubs. Feeds in flocks (coveys) at most seasons, alone or in family groups during breeding season.
Usually 12-16. White to pale buff. Incubation is by both sexes, 23-24 days. Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching; are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. If danger threatens young, parents may put on distraction display. Young can make short flights at 1-2 weeks, not full-grown for several more weeks.
Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching; are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. If danger threatens young, parents may put on distraction display. Young can make short flights at 1-2 weeks, not full-grown for several more weeks.
Includes seeds, leaves, insects. Diet varies with season and place. Eats many seeds (especially those of legumes), also leaves, buds, berries, acorns, roots, insects, spiders, and snails. May eat mostly seeds in winter, with more insects eaten in summer. Young birds may eat mostly insects at first.
In courtship, male turns head to side to show off pattern, droops wings, fluffs up feathers, makes short rushes at female; also walks slowly around female with tail fanned, feathers fluffed up. Nest site (apparently chosen by both members of pair) is on ground among dense growth. Nest (built by both sexes) is shallow depression lined with grass, leaves. Grass and weeds are often woven into an arch over nest, making it very well hidden, with entrance at one side.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident throughout range, which extends south to Guatemala.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsClear, whistled bob-WHITE or poor-bob-WHITE.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Northern Bobwhite
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Northern Bobwhite
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.