Wood Quail
Odontophorus leucolaemusCJ-AvesP74A
Odontophorus leucolaemus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Odontophoridae
Genus: Odontophorus
Vieillot, 1816

see species list

The Wood Quails are birds in the genus Odontophorus of the New World quail family, which are residents in forests in the Americas. The core range of the genus is centred in the lowlands and foothills of the northern Andes of Colombia and the mountain ranges of Central America; however, some species occur elsewhere in tropical and subtropical South America.

These are shy species, and as a consequence are amongst the most difficult Galliform birds to study or even observe. The best chance of seeing wood-quail is at dawn or dusk, when they may feed at the side of a road or on a forest track in family groups of up to 12 birds. Nevertheless, when protected they can become surprisingly tame, as has been shown at Paz de las Aves near Mindo, Ecuador, with the Dark-backed Wood-quail.

Wood Quails are 22–30 cm long, dumpy, short-tailed, stout-billed partridge-like birds with a bushy crest. The upperparts are dark brown, and the underparts are black, grey, brown or rufous. Some species have a striking black and white throat or facial markings. The sexes are similar, but in some species the female has a duller-coloured crest, and in others the underparts are more rufous or grey than in the male. The advertising calls are loud and distinctive duets consisting of repeated phrases, and are often the only indication that wood-quail are present.

For most wood quail, information has mainly come from specimens, and breeding behaviour and habits are little known. The majority of species, including the relatively widespread Spotted Wood Quail have never had the nest described.

Those species for which the feeding habits are known forage on the ground, scratching at the soil for seeds, fallen fruit and insects. Wood quail are typically shy and wary; they will normally make good their escape on foot, but if startled will explode into a short fast flight into dense cover.

All woodq uail species have been adversely affected by hunting and, in particular, rampant deforestation. Several species with restricted ranges are now considered threatened.

Species list


Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
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