#699! MOUNTAIN QUAIL (north of SF)

I am often asked, “Can you count a bird if you only hear it?”. Technically, the answer is yes but my answer has always been “NO”. Birders will debate the pros and cons…but for me it is really clear – seeing is believing. The Mountain Quail is one of those birds that is heard sometimes but seen infrequently. I have attempted to locate this secretive western quail several times but to no avail…..until today.

Accompanied by an experienced guide (Rich Cimino), we traveled 80 miles north of San Francisco to prime Mountain Quail habitat. A steep canyon at 2,000 feet elevation, lined with a mixture of oaks and conifers interspersed around chaparral grasses, presents the perfect spot to hear a male Mountain Quail call from his customary sentry position – a rocky outcrop or tree snag. Within seconds of Rich’s order to stop the car, we could hear the unmistakable “quee-ark” crowing call quite easily. But where was the bird? Thirty minutes elapsed and we still had not located the persistently calling quail. Desperate to SEE this guy, I began climbing up the hillside on all fours…much to Rich’s amusement. Of course, by the time I had reached its presumed location, the calling came from an entirely different direction. So frustrating! 

Probably holding back laughter, Rich politely suggested driving up the canyon. Sometimes these elusive creatures will forage along the shady side of the road. Admittedly, I thought we had missed our chance of actually seeing #699. I started driving up the very windy road, my mind still on the hillside envisioning what should have been. Suddenly, a dark hen-like figure flashed in front of me and darted around the corner. If Rich hadn’t put the car in park after my quick exit….well, I don’t want to contemplate the consequences. Anyhow, I hoped for the best and in seconds was rewarded. #699! 


About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to #699! MOUNTAIN QUAIL (north of SF)

  1. Betsy Block says:

    What a gorgeous bird! Congrats, George!! Only 1 to go…

  2. Bill Warden says:

    Beautiful bird. Very cool for it to be the one just before “the big one”.

  3. joycegeorge says:

    Congratulations George. Beautiful bird. I hope you will be able to rest soon!!!!! So excited for you.

  4. Bob Roche says:

    Yeah man!

    All the best,

    Bob Roche 484-802-3648


  5. Deborah Glass says:

    George- he is beautiful. That color blue is unlike anything else. Getting so close to 700.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Deborah E. Glass 610-999-6031 (c)


  6. Julie Foster says:

    Great going, George! Getting close, huh?

  7. Jeffrey Dingle says:

    1 more!!


    Sent from myPhone

  8. Nina says:

    That is a really cool looking bird!!! Love you

  9. Jay Bennett says:

    ‎Puss: way to go, proud of you boy. Yanking it in the 9th! Missed you here in Philly. Must get together‎!

    Eliza: see all the “fun” you could have North of SanFran?! Let’s see…lax, ice cream, jog to the beach, bar-hopping OR scrabbling up arroyos desperately looking for this admittedly cool looking creature!? toss-up. 🙂

    Jay Bennett 203-625-5079

  10. Ziesing, Peter R says:

    Nice bird George – good story – best, Zies

    Sent from my iPhone

  11. Dorothy Weisbord says:

    Wow, what a bird. Congratulations of 699.

  12. George Gephart says:

    Only one more to go, George. Looking forward to learning what #700 is, and then to your next challenge! Rest at 700? I think not!

  13. ANNE WOOD says:

    He is HANDSOME. How many females are as gorgeous?

    George, you won’t even have to go to the Pribilofs at this rate. But it has to be another great bird and you have to go to that Geek Orthodox church there to give thanks. Don’t fall over the cliffs as we almost did. xoxoxo mom

  14. Marv says:

    Amazing photo, George. And now I have seen it too! Never dreamed he existed.

  15. David says:

    Terrific work, Mr. Birdman!
    You must be aware, however, that your SF friends are not pleased to hear you were here w/out a call/visit……
    love to nina

  16. Tom Mason says:

    Great photo, George. This bird obviously has no respect for human life–yours, that is!

  17. david lincoln says:

    Congratulations Georgie. Awesome picture and great story.
    I can’t wait for number 700! Have you decided what you are going after for the big 700?

    David F. Lincoln
    Element Partners
    (o) 610-964-8004
    Sent from my iPhone

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