Northern BobwhiteColinus virginianus

adult male, Florida
James M. Wedge/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male, Southwestern (Masked Bobwhite)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male, Eastern
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male, Texas
Brian E. Small/VIREO
Northern Bobwhite


8-11" (20-28 cm). A small, chunky, brown bird; underparts pale and streaked; face patterned in black and white in males, buff and white in females. Usually seen in groups called coveys.


Clear, whistled bob-WHITE or poor-bob-WHITE.


2. Calls #1
3. calls #2
4. calls #3


Brushy pastures, grassy roadsides, farmlands, and open woodlands.


Permanent resident from Kansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Cape Cod southward. Fluctuating populations farther north and west. Introduced locally elsewhere.


The Northern Bobwhite is mainly an eastern and Mexican bird but is also found in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains. One of our most popular game birds, the Northern Bobwhite is more numerous now than it was when unbroken forest covered most of the eastern United States; but in recent years the species has declined somewhat due to the cutting of roadside brush, the trimming of farmland borders, and the gradual replacement of former pastures with dense stands of young trees. After the breeding period these birds live together in a covey, huddling together at night and in cold weather. When danger threatens they fly out in every direction, startling the would-be predator, who often catches none of the birds.

Similar Species

adult male

Montezuma Quail

8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm). A stocky quail with a complex face pattern. Male has striking black-and-white face markings, rounded buff crest, and bold white spots on sides and flanks.


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