Northern Bobwhite

Colinus virginianus




New World Quail (Odontophoridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

14 - 16

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground, hidden by vegatation.

Nest Material:

Weeds, grasses, dead vegetation





Northern Bobwhite: Medium-sized, morphologically variable quail, most with unique head pattern of white face and throat with wide, dark eyestripe and rufous-brown (eastern and Great Plains) or black (Florida) center stripe on top of head. Body shows a mottled combination of black, brown, rufous-brown, and gray; eastern form has plain rufous-brown breast band, Great Plains form has gray and rufous-brown mottled breast band, and Florida form has nearly black breast band. Southwestern form has black head, face, and throat, a faint white eyebrow extending down neck, and rufous-brown body. Female of all forms has buff face and throat with brown eyestripe and cap; body is mottled rufous-brown, black, and white overall. Juvenile is smaller and duller.

Range and Habitat

Northern Bobwhite: Occur from southeastern Ontario to Central America. Highest population densities are reached in the eastern United States and Mexico. Can also be found throughout Cuba. Disjunct populations exist in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northwestern Mexico. Found in a variety of forested and agricultural habitats.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Bobwhite: Monogamous and solitary. Both sexes build scape nest of grasses, weeds, dead vegetation. Female usually incubates fourteen to sixteen cream eggs alone for 23 days, males have been documented incubating occasionally. Precocial, downy young are able to walk and find insect food almost immediately upon hatching. Family groups may stay together through late winter.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Bobwhite: Feeds on a variety of seeds, by ground foraging, occasionally consumes green vegetation and insects. Seed diet extremely diverse, includes wheat, corn, soybeans, legumes, pine and oak mast, and grasses.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn


Northern Bobwhite: Song a clear, whistled "bob WHITE" or "pup WAAAYK." Several different call notes include soft "hoy", moderate "hoy-poo", and loud "koi-lee." Alarm call a harsh "quaee." Some geographic variation in vocalizations.

Similar Species

Northern Bobwhite: Male Montezuma Quail has a more complex facial pattern and chestnut belly. Female Montezuma Quail has grayish face.

The upper front part of a bird.
Also called the supercilicum or superciliary it is the arch of feathers over each eye.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X