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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Davis Mountains State Park: Montezuma Quail

[Ft. Davis, TX. April 2015]

What is Patience? Is it the assured wait for something long wanted? Or, a dogged persistence that never quits? Perhaps it is the faith that good things will happen in their own time. However defined, surely Patience is a quality that rewards, in due course, those who are committed to its practice. 

And, in support of this thesis, on a third visit (in 3 years) to Davis Mountains State Park, the prior two having proved spectacularly fruitless, that this blogger's patience was rewarded handsomely with generous views of the fabled Montezuma Quail -- our most striking, restricted and secretive quail.

While Montezuma II, last emperor of the Aztec Empire, is perhaps better known for his defeat to the Spanish conquistadors, he has also been famously immortalized not only in the Marine Corps Hymn ("From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli ..."), the vernacular for Mexican diarrhea ("Montezuma's revenge"), and, perhaps most significantly, for lending his name to Cyrtonyx montezumae -- Montezuma Quail.

Montezuma Quail (male)

Smaller than a Northern Bobwhite, the Montezuma Quail's most distinctive feature is the male's strongly pattered face, golden crest, spotted sides, streaked back and deep brown chest.

Montezuma Quail (male)

This is a mainly Mexican quail that is found in just a few small regions in the US -- in Arizona, Western Texas and New Mexico. Preferring hilly and wooded habitat, these quail are classified as "Least Concern"; however, owing to their highly secretive nature are rarely sighted; which, is probably a good thing as they are regrettably hunted in all three states in which they occur.

Montezuma Quail (female)

In contrast to the male, the female is a much plainer specimen -- pale buff with some streaking on the back. Juveniles resemble the female in plumage.

Montezuma Quail (male)

Other birds observed at Davis Mountains State Park included:

White-winged Dove:

Pine Siskin:

and, Chipping Sparrow:

There is no better way for a three year wait to come to an end than with the sighting of a long desired species -- and, when the species in question is not only a Lifer but the stunning Montezuma Quail, the memory of the wait fades into trivial insignificance. A sentiment, that surely must find resonance in every birder's own experience with the value of Patience in the observation of iconic yet elusive species.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

A stunning find indeed. The third time's the charm as they say. I can imagine your excitement in the observation and photography of the quail, Hemant. Beautiful "bonus" birds to round out your report.