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Crested Bobwhite

Colinus cristatus

The crested bobwhite, Colinus cristatus, is a modestly sized bird, with adults measuring from 178 to 216 millimeters in length. Both sexes present a strikingly similar plumage. The bird is adorned with long, pale buff or white feathers on its forehead and crown, sometimes darkened at the crest. A marbled pattern of black and white graces the back and sides of the neck, while the throat may be white or buff, occasionally speckled with black. The upper parts exhibit a mottled arrangement of black, brown, and grey, and the underparts are a lighter shade, with a mix of buff, cinnamon, and black markings. The eyes are a deep brown, the beak is a stark black, and the legs are a bluish-grey hue. The female tends to have a slightly browner complexion compared to the male.

Identification Tips

When identifying the crested bobwhite, look for the characteristic pale crest feathers and the marbled neck pattern. The bird's mottled upper parts and lighter underparts with distinct markings are also key identification features. The brown eye, black beak, and bluish-grey legs can help distinguish it from similar species.


The crested bobwhite favors a variety of habitats, including subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, and areas of heavily degraded former forest.


This species is native to northern South America and can be found extending through Panama and just reaching into Costa Rica. It also inhabits Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.


The crested bobwhite is known to form small groups and is typically found on the ground in or near dense cover. Its behavior mirrors that of its relative, the northern bobwhite, engaging in similar foraging and social activities.

Song & Calls

During the breeding season, the male crested bobwhite vocalizes a distinctive, fast, husky call. The three-syllable "quoit bob-white" or a two-syllable "oh, wheet" can often be heard, serving as both a territorial and mating call.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the crested bobwhite consists of buds, shoots, leaves, and small invertebrates, which it forages for on the ground.

Conservation status

The crested bobwhite is classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It boasts a very wide range and is commonly found throughout much of its distribution. The population appears to be increasing, indicating a stable conservation status for the time being.

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Crested Bobwhites on Birda

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Nagi Aboulenein
31 Dec 2023 - 12:25pm

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