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Bearded Wood Partridge

Dendrortyx barbatus

The bearded wood partridge, Dendrortyx barbatus, is a rather elusive bird, cloaked in an array of earthy hues. Adults of this species boast bluish gray cheeks, neck, and upper chest, with a distinctive red patch encircling the eye. A buff crown, adorned with a modest crest, sits atop their head. The nape and chest are washed in cinnamon, with the nape featuring red striations, while the sides of the chest are similarly marked. The back is a tapestry of buff, browns, and grays. The immature birds mirror the adults in pattern, though with a somewhat duller chest and brown-barred flanks.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the bearded wood partridge, look for its size, which ranges from 33 to 35.5 cm in length, and its weight between 405 and 459 grams. The red eye patch and the small crest on the buff crown are key features to distinguish it from other species.


This bird favors the seclusion of humid evergreen montane forests and the mixed environments of pine-oak forests. Both primary and secondary growths are suitable, as are gardens and occasionally farmland. It is often found in the narrow corridors of riparian zones.


The bearded wood partridge is endemic to the central Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico, with a range that is discontinuous, possibly due to the biogeographic barriers formed by the Santo Domingo River in northern Oaxaca and the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Oriental.


Foraging primarily on the ground, the bearded wood partridge is a bird of the underbrush, often hidden from sight. It is known to forage in groups, and when disturbed, it may prefer to run rather than take flight.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the bearded wood partridge includes a series of loud, rollicking whistles, which are often delivered in a rapid duet, particularly at dawn and dusk. The female's song is similar to the male's but is delivered at a quieter volume. These calls serve to maintain contact within groups.


Details on the breeding habits of the bearded wood partridge are scarce. However, it is known to breed between April and June. The male constructs a dome-shaped nest with a tunnel entrance, and the typical clutch consists of five eggs.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the bearded wood partridge is varied, including seeds, fruits, buds, tubers, and insects, all foraged from the forest floor.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the bearded wood partridge as Vulnerable. While more widespread and numerous than previously believed, the species still faces a continuous decline due to its highly fragmented range and small population size.

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