California Quail

Scientific Name: Callipepla californica

Habitat: California Quail like shrubs and brush nearby for cover. They can be found in a variety for habitats including parks, forest edges, shrubby backyards, desert edges, woodlands, and chaparral.

Diet: The California Quail eats mostly seeds and grains, but California Quail also eat acorns, flowers, poison oak berries, leaves, snails, and a variety of bugs including mites, millipedes, beetles, and caterpillars.

Sound: The California Quail’s most common call is three notes described as chi-ca-go! that rises and falls in pitch.

Nesting: California Quail are ground nesters, but occasionally nest up to ten feet up. Their nests are small depressions in the ground lined with leaves, stems, and grasses. The nest is placed under shrubs or brush, or next to a log for cover, and when the nest is finished it is about 5 to 7 inches across, and 1 to 2 inches deep. California Quail lay 12 to 16 eggs, and incubate them for 22 to 23 days. The eggs are white, and lightly speckled with brown. California Quail live for 6 to 7 years.

Description/field marks: California Quail males are purplish blue on their breasts and backs, and their faces are black with two white stripes, one on the cheek which is nearly vertical and one above the eye which is nearly horizontal.  The crowns of California Quail are brown, and on their heads they have black plumes. The sides of California Quail are streaked with white, and the undersides checkered with brown and white. The females are brown on their faces, backs, and tails, and their head plumes are much smaller. The Gamble’s Quail is easy to mix up with the California Quail, but Gamble’s Quail have black undersides, and right under their blue breasts they have beige streaks. The sides of the wings of Gamble’s Quail are brown.

Behavior: The California Quail is a ground forager. They form coveys in winter where there can be up to 75 individual Quail. They are often seen scratching at the ground to uncover seeds or other food.

How to attract: To attract California Quail to your backyard, plant shrubs to provide cover for the Quail and sprinkle seed on the ground.

california quail

California Quail

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