One of my favorite birds, the Califronia Quail (Callipepla
californica). A male often acts as a sentinel for the covey feeding in
the brush below. This one from today at the Las Gallinas (San Rafael,
California) treatment ponds parking lot, about 8 feet from my car. The
California Quail is a west coast bird, with a range from Canada to
Baja. Native here, but also widely introduced, both here and abroad,
as it is a popular game bird. Populations generally doing well, and
not seemingly hurt by hunting. Greater losses are from predation, by
Cooper's Hawk and a variety of mammals, with overall annual mortality
up to 40%. Clutch size can be 20 or more, and the male plays a major
role in safeguarding the chicks. In fact the female may leave the
clutch with him and take up with another male to do it all over again.
Note the prominent scaling on neck and belly, not present on the similar Gambel's Quail. The topknot is actually a cluster of 6 or more feathers.
Order: Galliformes - Turkeys, Guans, Grouse, Pheasants/Quails, Guineafowl and Megapodes
Family: Odontophoridae - New World Quail - 9 genera, 31 species (6 species in the U.S.)
Genus: Callipepla - 5 species, including also Mountain (C. pictus), Gambel's (C. gambelii), Scaled (C. squamata), and Elegant Quail (C. douglasii).
Species: Callipepla californica - California Quail, and the state bird of California,