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Beauty and Secrecy: The Montezuma Quail

This tiny bird can be hard to find and see, but it’s well worth the effort

The Montezuma Quail is a tiny bird of Mexican mountains and the Southwestern US. It appears boldly colored in the open but disappears into the brush as if invisible. Habitat loss and overgrazing have diminished the bird’s range, but conservation agencies have been working together to protect it.

Today's show is brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.

Full Transcript



Beauty and Secrecy: the Montezuma Quail

Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Montezuma Quail,, 0.36-.37, repeated]
We’re in the Davis Mountains of Southwest Texas, the landscape dotted with oaks. [quail] An eerie trill erupts from the foot-tall grass.
It’s the Montezuma Quail, a tiny, ornately patterned bird named for the Aztec ruler. Rows of bright white spots line the quail’s black flanks. Its back is crosshatched with shafts of gold. And elegant swirls of black adorn its white face.
The quail’s markings are bold and beautiful. But watch it hunker down on a carpet of fallen oak leaves, or rest among lichen-covered stones, and it disappears into the brush as if invisible.
The Montezuma Quail is a secretive bird and a scarce one. Few birds are more highly sought after by birders visiting the Southwest. Mostly a bird of Mexican mountains, it reaches just into the southwestern United States.
Habitat loss and overgrazing have reduced the range of this little bird. Without the right brush to hide in, the quail’s camouflage isn’t nearly as good. But it still holds its own in areas protected by The Nature Conservancy, Texas State Parks, and national forests in Arizona and New Mexico.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Geoffrey Keller
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2018 Tune In to   March 2018   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#            MONQ-01-2018-03-07                MONQ-01   

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