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Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge

Dendrortyx leucophrys

The buffy-crowned wood partridge, known scientifically as Dendrortyx leucophrys, is a member of the Odontophoridae family, commonly referred to as the New World quail. This bird is adorned with a distinctive chestnut crown and nape, complemented by a short crest. Its plumage is a harmonious blend of chestnut and gray across the back, wings, and tail, while the belly boasts a blue-gray hue with chestnut streaks. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males typically weighing around 397 grams and females slightly lighter at approximately 340 grams. The bird's length ranges from 28 to 35.5 centimeters.

Identification Tips

To identify the buffy-crowned wood partridge, look for its white forehead, supercilium, chin, and throat, which contrast with the chestnut and gray plumage. A patch of bare red skin encircles the eye, adding to its distinctive appearance. The subspecies D. l. hypospodius is generally larger, darker, and grayer, with very dark and narrow breast stripes.


This species thrives in a variety of humid to semi-humid montane forests, including oak-pine, evergreen, and cloud forests. It is also known to inhabit secondary forests, partially logged areas, and even coffee plantations.


The buffy-crowned wood partridge is found across several regions, with the nominate subspecies residing from Chiapas in southern Mexico to western Guatemala, and extending to Honduras, El Salvador, northwestern Nicaragua, and far eastern Guatemala. The subspecies D. l. hypospodius calls central Costa Rica its home.


The buffy-crowned wood partridge forages by scratching through leaf litter, often moving in family groups of four to six. During the non-breeding season, they may form coveys of up to 12 individuals.

Song & calls

The primary vocalization of this bird is a rapid series of loud hoarse whistles, which can be described as 'kee-orr-KWA' or 'whew, Whit-cha, cha-waWHAT-cha'. These calls are most frequently heard at dawn and dusk.


The nesting season for the buffy-crowned wood partridge typically spans from February to June. Nests are constructed on the ground, either as a domed structure or within dense grasses. Clutches usually contain six to seven eggs.

Diet and Feeding

While the diet of the buffy-crowned wood partridge has not been extensively studied, it is known to include seeds, buds, small fruits, and invertebrates.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the buffy-crowned wood partridge as Least Concern. Although deforestation may pose a threat in some parts of its range, the species has shown an ability to adapt to a considerable level of habitat alteration.

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