Spot-breasted Quail Cyrtonyx sallei


Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split species is poorly-known but is suspected to be undergoing moderately rapid population declines as its high altitude woodland and grassland habitat is being converted and degraded through overgrazing and logging. It may also suffer from hunting pressure. It has therefore been classified as Near Threatened, but further information on population size and trend, and severity of threats, would be desirable to better clarify its status.

Population justification
The global population size is unknown given recent taxonomic splits.

Trend justification
There are no trend data available, but the species is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.12 years]) owing to on-going habitat degradation caused by unfavourable land management such as over-grazing by livestock.

Distribution and population

Cyrtonyx sallei is found in southern Michoac√°n, Guerrero and western Oaxaca in southern Mexico.


C. sallei is found in open oak and pine woodlands, thick brush and grasslands between 1,060 m and 3,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). A ground-dweller, the species primarily feeds on bulbs and tubers during the dry season and invertebrates during the wet season; apparently standing water is not necessary (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The severity of threats is uncertain but it is likely to be affected by habitat degradation caused by unfavourable land management such as over-grazing by livestock, deforestation and perhaps also hunting.

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
None is known.

Conservation and research actions proposed
Obtain population and trend estimates, study the species ecology and assess threats.


20-22cm. Rotund, ground-dwelling quail with a striking black-and-white face pattern, orange-rufous underparts, and white-spotted breast side and flanks. The upperparts are mostly grey-brown with black barring with bright red streaks on the outer web of each scapular and wing covert. Similar spp. Montezuma Quail C. montezumae and Ocellated Quail C. ocellatus have the same face pattern. C. montezumae has the breast and flanks boldly white spotted on a black background and lacks the rufous on the upperparts. C. ocellatus lacks any white spotting on its plainer orange underparts.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Cyrtonyx sallei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/05/2020.