Plumed Partridge

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


Back TOC Forward


[Mountain Quail.]

[Oreortyx pictus.]


Of this beautiful bird little, I believe, is known. The following notice by Mr. TOWNSEND shews that it is entitled to a place in our Fauna. "This bird inhabits the dense woods along the tributary streams of the Columbia river, and is said to extend south into California. It is at all times a very scarce species, going in coveys of from six to ten, and is rarely seen away from its favourite places of resort. In all my rambles through the Oregon country I was never so fortunate as to meet with this pretty bird, the three specimens which I have received having been procured for me by others."

One of these specimens has been forwarded to me by Mr. TOWNSEND, and as it proved a female, I made a drawing of the male from a superb specimen now in the Museum of the Zoological Society of London.

PLUMED PARTRIDGE, Perdix plumifera, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 226.

Male, 11, wing 5 3/4. Female, 10, wing 5 1/2.

Columbia river and Upper California. Rather rare. Migratory.

Adult Male.

Bill very short, stout, higher than broad, its dorsal outline decurved from the base, the ridge narrow, the sides sloping and convex, the edges sharp and overlapping, the tip rather obtuse but thin-edged; nostrils basal, oblong, operculate in the fore part of the wide nasal groove, which is partially covered with feathers; gap-line a little arched; lower mandible with the angle short and rounded, the dorsal line ascending and slightly convex, the ridge broad, the sides convex, the edges sharp, the tip obtuse.

Head of moderate size, ovate; neck short; body full. Feet of moderate length, stout; tibia covered to the joint; tarsus rather short, a little compressed, edged behind, covered all round with angular scales, of which the anterior are very large; toes four, the first small, and placed higher than the rest; the anterior long, rather slender, the fourth considerably longer than the second, the third much the longest; all scutellate above. Claws long, rather slender, compressed, arched, rather acute.

Plumage full, firm, blended. Feathers generally oblong, on the sides very large. On the top of the head are two linear-lanceolate, decurved feathers, having their webs deflected, and three inches and three-quarters long, in the midst of a tuft of smaller feathers. Wings short, convex, much rounded, the fourth quill longest, the third and fifth scarcely shorter, the second four-twelfths shorter than the third, and five-twelfths longer than the second. Tail rather short, much rounded, of twelve feathers.

Bill black, "iris red," feet dull yellow, claws brown. The upper part of the head, the hind neck, the fore part of the back, the lower part of the fore neck, and part of the breast, greyish-blue; the feathers round the base of the bill white; the elongated feathers on the head black, the throat bright chestnut, margined on each side by a black line, succeeded by a band of white an inch and a half in length, passing downwards from the eye. The back and rump are reddish-brown, the quills and tail-feathers wood-brown, margined with reddish-brown, the inner secondaries broadly margined internally with white. The middle of the breast bright chestnut, as are the upper hypochondrial feathers, which are margined on their inner web toward the end with a narrow black, and a broad white band, the intervening space on the sides broadly banded with white, black, and brownish-red.

Length to end of tail 11 inches; bill along the ridge (7 1/2)/12, along the edge of lower mandible 7/12; wing from flexure 5 3/4; tail 3 1/2; tarsus 1 4/12; hind toe (4 1/4)/12, its claw 3/12; middle toe (9 1/2)/12, its claw 6/12.

Adult Female.

The female, which is somewhat less, is similar to the male, but less brightly coloured. The elongated feathers on the head are much shorter, being about two inches long. The middle and hind part of the back, the wings, and the tail, are very minutely and rather faintly undulated with dusky. Otherwise the difference in the colouring is not very remarkable.

Length to end of tail 10 inches; bill along the ridge 7/12; wing from flexure 5 1/2; tail 3 1/2; tarsus 1 4/12; hind toe 4/12, it claw 3/12; middle toe (9 1/4)/12, its claw 6/12.

Back TOC Forward

Save Our Forests