California Quail
Description   9-11"  Gray, ground-dwelling
bird, more slender than most other quail. It has
a light breast with scaled patterning, white
streaks along brown sides, and black and gray
scaling on the nape of the neck.

The male has a bold black face outlined in
white, with a brown crown and a pendulous
feather plume hanging forward from his

The female is less boldly marked, has a tan
head, a small feather plume.

Habitat   Most often found in edge habitat
with food-producing plants and shrubs for
cover. Brushy chaparral foothills and live-oak
canyons; also adjacent desert and suburbs.

Diet   California Quail rely heavily on seeds,
especially those from legumes. They will also
eat leaves, fresh shoots, berries, acorns, and

Nesting  Perched on a tree or a fence post,
the male California Quail claims his territory by
cackling and posturing. The entire family takes
to trees for roosting as well as for safety.

Ground nesters, they usually find a spot under
a shrub or brush-pile or next to a log or other
cover where they build a shallow depression
lined with grasses and leaves. Sometimes they
nest above ground, on a broken branch or in
the old nest of another bird.

Females lay and incubate a clutch of 12-16
eggs; cream- or buff-colored eggs, blotched
and dotted with brown.

Although the young are able to walk about and
feed themselves almost immediately after
hatching, both parents continue to tend to them,
the female brooding them at night and in cold
weather, and the male acting as a sentry,
watching for danger.

Range  Originally resident from southern
Oregon south to Baja California. Introduced to
Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and other inland

Although the California Quail is a permanent
resident, it moves seasonally within its home

Voice   A loud distinctive ka-kah-ko or
Chi-ca-go, the second note highest.

Discussion  California Quail are
predominantly ground dwellers, although the
males spend much time off the ground in
bushes, trees, and on man made structures,
especially when calling.
December 2005
September 2005  Momma, Baby, and Daddy
February 2007
February 2007
February 2007
With their 'topknots', and 'chin strap' plumage, this row of males reminds me of mini, marching Roman soldiers.
The State Bird of California
October 2008