Himalayan quail | WWF India

Himalayan quail

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Himalayan quail

  • Scientific Name

    Ophrysia superciliosa

  • Population

    Last population estimate was less than 50 individuals. No sightings have been recorded since 1876.

  • Length

    about 45 cms

  • Status

    Listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List

 
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Himalayan Quail
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Characteristics

The Himalayan quail is a medium-sized bird belonging to the pheasant family, with distinctive red or yellow bill and legs, and prominent white spots around the eyes. It has a long covert tail which is longer than most other quails. Males are dark grey with bleak streaks and a white forehead, and females are grayish brown with dark streaks. The last sighting of this bird was a group of a dozen individuals, indicating that they are social birds and generally live in coveys of five to ten. Since they were last seen more than 125 years ago, very little is known about their behaviour and characteristics.

Conservation Issues

The species was last seen more than 70 years before independence, which indicates that hunting activities during the colonial period contributed significantly to the decline in its population. By the 1800s, sightings were extremely rare, with only about 50 individuals left in the wild. Although it has not been sighted in many years, there is still hope that a small population survives in the lower or middle Himalayan range.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

WWF-India works to raise awareness about this species and encourage people to search for it. More recently, it has supported the Forest Department of Uttarakhand in its awareness raising campaign by helping create awareness posters.

Habitat and distribution

The Himalayan quail is native to India, found only in the mountains of Uttarakhand in north-west Himalayas. The last sightings recorded before 1877 were from Mussourie and Nainital hill stations, suggesting that they prefer higher altitudes. They are known to inhabit long grass and scrubs on steep hillsides, particularly south facing slopes between the altitudes of 1,650 and 2,400 metres.
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