Family New World Quails (Odontophoridae)

Least Concern

Elegant Quail (Callipepla douglasii)


French: Colin élégant German: Douglaswachtel Spanish: Colín elegante
Other common names: Benson's Quail (bensoni)

Ortyx Douglasii


, 1829,

Mazatlán, Sonora, Mexico


Often placed in Lophortyx. Sometimes considered conspecific with C. squamata, but genetic study supports treatment as separate species#R. Race vanderbilti overlooked in almost all recent treatments (including HBW), possibly owing to assumption that the population on the islands (Tres Marías) had been introduced#R, but no known evidence of introduction. Race languens, known only from type locality (in W Chihuahua, Mexico), sometimes subsumed within bensoni; impedita sometimes synonymized with teres. Proposed form leucoprosopon was described from aviary birds, probably hybrids between present species and C. gambelii#R. Six subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. d. bensoni Ridgway, 1887 – C Sonora, NW Mexico.
  • C. d. languens (Friedmann, 1943) – W Chihuahua, NW Mexico.
  • C. d. douglasii (Vigors, 1829) – S Sonora, Sinaloa, NW Durango and N Nayarit, W Mexico.
  • C. d. impedita (Friedmann, 1943) – C & S Nayarit, W Mexico.
  • C. d. teres (Friedmann, 1943) – NW Jalisco, WC Mexico.
  • C. d. vanderbilti (J. Bond & Meyer de Schauensee, 1944) – Tres Marías Is, off CW Mexico (Nayarit).
  • Descriptive notes

    22–25·5 cm; 160–190 g. Male slightly larger. Long vertical crest is orange-buff in male. Overall coloration blue-grey. Crown, sides of head and neck and... read more


    Territorial call a hollow, ringing “gueek!”, repeated at irregular intervals, which may be... read more


    Arid tropical thorn forest and scrub; common in second-growth forest. Also visits cultivated fields... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds (especially legumes), fruits and insects. Often seen scratching and feeding along roads.


    Season commences late Apr and May. Coveys disband in mid Apr. Nests on ground. Clutch size usually 8–12 eggs (up to 20, perhaps... read more


    Presumably sedentary. Coveys of 6–20 birds observed.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Status not well known; total population might number c. 50,000–100,000 birds. Reported to be common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carroll, J.P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Elegant Quail (Callipepla douglasii). 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 27 February 2020).