02 40 014 Odontophorus gujanensis m
Marbled Wood Quail (Odontophorus gujanensis)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Galliformes
Family Odontophoridae

Odontophoridae or New World quails, 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. The stone partridge and Nahan's partridge, both found in Africa, seem to belong to the family. Species are found throughout 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.


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.

Behavior 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
 Bearded Wood Partridge (Gould, 1846) (Dendrortyx barbatus)
 Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge (Gould, 1844) (Dendrortyx leucophrys)
 Long-tailed Wood Partridge (Jardine & Selby, 1828) (Dendrortyx macroura)
Genus: Oreortyx
 Mountain Quail (Douglas, 1829) (Oreortyx pictus)
Genus: Callipepla
 California Quail (Shaw, 1798) (Callipepla californica)
 Elegant Quail (Vigors, 1829) (Callipepla douglasii) 
 Gambel's Quail (Gambel, 1843) Callipepla gambelii
 Scaled Quail (Vigors, 1830) (Callipepla squamata)
Genus: Philortyx
 Banded Quail (Gould, 1844) (Philortyx fasciatus)
Genus: Colinus
 Crested Bobwhite (Linnaeus, 1766) (Colinus cristatus)
 Spot-bellied Bobwhite (Gould, 1842) (Colinus leucopogon)
 Yucatan Bobwhite (Gould, 1843) (Colinus nigrogularis)
 Northern Bobwhite (Linnaeus, 1758) (Colinus virginianus)
Genus: Odontophorus (wood quails)
 Black-fronted Wood Quail (Allen, 1900) (Odontophorus atrifrons)
 Stripe-faced Wood Quail (Gould, 1846) (Odontophorus balliviani)
 Spot-winged Wood Quail (Spix, 1825) (Odontophorus capueira)
 Venezuelan Wood Quail (Gould, 1850) (Odontophorus columbianus)
 Tacarcuna Wood Quail (Wetmore, 1963) (Odontophorus dialeucos)
 Rufous-fronted Wood Quail (Gould, 1859) (Odontophorus erythrops)
 Marbled Wood Quail (Gmelin, 1789) (Odontophorus gujanensis)
 Spotted Wood Quail (Gould, 1838) (Odontophorus guttatus)
 Chestnut Wood Quail (Gould, 1858) (Odontophorus hyperythrus)
 Black-breasted Wood Quail (Salvin, 1867) (Odontophorus leucolaemus)
 Black-eared Wood Quail (Salvin, 1865) (Odontophorus melanotis)
 Dark-backed Wood Quail (Gould, 1860) (Odontophorus melanonotus)
 Rufous-breasted Wood Quail (Tschudi, 1843) (Odontophorus speciosus)
 Starred Wood Quail (Gould, 1843) (Odontophorus stellatus)
 Gorgeted Wood Quail (Gould, 1844) (Odontophorus strophium)
Genus: Dactylortyx
 Singing Quail (Gambel, 1848) (Dactylortyx thoracicus)
Genus: Cyrtonyx
 Montezuma Quail (Vigors, 1830) (Cyrtonyx montezumae)
 Ocellated Quail (Gould, 1837) (Cyrtonyx ocellatus)
Genus: Rhynchortyx
 Tawny-faced Quail (Salvin, 1876) (Rhynchortyx cinctus)
Genus: Ptilopachus
 Nahan's Partridge (Dubois, 1905) (Ptilopachus nahani)
 Stone Partridge (Gmelin, 1789) (Ptilopachus petrosus)
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