Family New World Quails (Odontophoridae)

Least Concern

Crested Bobwhite (Colinus cristatus)


French: Colin huppé German: Haubenwachtel Spanish: Colín crestudo

Tetrao cristatus


, 1758,

Mexico, Guiana = Curaçao


Type locality of species questionable; year of description 1758, not 1766 (latter based on Meleagris cristatus)#R. Often considered conspecific with C. leucopogon. Race leucotis has been considered a separate species, but seems not particularly distinct. Validity of several Venezuelan races possibly in question owing to overlapping distributions and lack of barriers. Birds of coastal NW Venezuela, Aruba and Curaçao sometimes split as race continentis. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. mariae Wetmore, 1962 – SW Costa Rica and Chiriquí area of W Panama.
  • C. c. panamensis Dickey & van Rossem, 1930 – Pacific slope of WC Panama.
  • C. c. decoratus (Todd, 1917) – Caribbean coast of Colombia (N Magdalena S to N Córdoba).
  • C. c. littoralis (Todd, 1917) – N base of Santa Marta Mts, in N Colombia.
  • C. c. cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758) – NE Colombia (E Santa Marta Mts) E through Guajira Peninsula to coast of NW Venezuela; also Aruba and Curaçao, where possibly introduced.
  • C. c. badius Conover, 1938 – Cauca Valley to W slope of W Andes, in W Colombia.
  • C. c. leucotis (Gould, 1844) – upper and middle sections of Magdalena Valley, and middle Sinú Valley, in C Colombia.
  • C. c. bogotensis Dugand, 1943 – E Andes of NC Colombia (Boyacá and Cundinamarca).
  • C. c. parvicristatus (Gould, 1843) – C Colombia (E slope of E Andes in Boyacá and Cundinamarca, through Meta and llanos) to SC Venezuela (NW Bolívar and N Amazonas).
  • C. c. horvathi (Madarász, 1904) – Andes of Mérida, in NW Venezuela.
  • C. c. barnesi Gilliard, 1940 – Portuguesa and Barinas, in WC Venezuela.
  • C. c. mocquerysi (E. J. O. Hartert, 1894) – NE Venezuela in Sucre, N Monagas and N Anzoátegui, also Margarita I.
  • C. c. sonnini (Temminck, 1815) – NC Venezuela (Carabobo and Caracas) through Orinoco Basin and Guianas to extreme N Brazil (NE Roraima).
  • Introduced (sonnini) to Mustique, in Grenadines, and St Thomas (Virgin Is).

    Descriptive notes

    18–23 cm; male 117–153 g, female 113–147 g (Suriname). Prominent crest separates from congeners, although size variable with race; crown and crest white to... read more


    Calls year-round, though is typically less vocal than C. virginianus. Advertisement, given... read more


    Arid lowlands, and locally into subtropical zone, using thickets, woodland edges, savanna,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly seeds, but also insects during wet season in Venezuela. Most important plants include Euphorbia, Hyptis,... read more


    Apr/May–Oct/Nov, corresponding to mid or late dry season (or later) in Venezuela; adults in breeding condition Jul–Sept in... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Status not well known; total population might number in excess of 1,000,000 birds. Apparently common in many areas... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carroll, J.P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Crested Bobwhite (Colinus cristatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).