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California Quail | by Len Blumin
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California Quail

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.

Taxonomy below.

Cheers, Len




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,


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Uploaded on April 29, 2008