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The Fall Migration of Oreortyx Pictus Plumiferus

Lyman Belding
Publication Information
1 (January-February)
From Field and Study

The Fall Migration of Oreortyx pictus plumiferus.

The fall migration of the mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus plumiferus) appears to be influenced but little by the food supply or temperature in its summer habitat in the Sierras, which it appears to leave because the proper time has arrived for its annual tramp down the west slope. The first flocks start about the first of September, or sometimes two or three days sooner. At Webber Lake after three cold cloudy days, they began to move westward August 28, 1900. When they are migrating their whistle is frequently heard, and they do not seek cover for protection but follow a wagon road, railroad, travel in snow sheds, pass near dwellings, and seem to care but little for self preservation .

Several flocks used to come down to the foot of Stanfield Hill, Yuba County, which for eight years was my favorite shooting grounds, and there spend the winter. They would arrive about the middle of October. One year they did not come at all, and I wondered if they could foretell the mildness or severity of the coming winter, for that winter was a mild one, excepting that October was unusually cold and stormy. Their regularity in leaving the mountains without regard to food, temperature, or size of young has mystified me quite as much as Anthus pensilvanicus, and other northern breeding birds which I found in southern Lower California. Why they should remain in the tropical climate of Cape San Lucas until the first of May and then depart for their northern breeding grounds at the same time when they start north from the much more northern Central California puzzled me, for there was no perceptible change in climatic conditions about the first of May, and indeed scarcely a change in them, at the Cape, during the two or three preceeding months.


Stockton, Cal.

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