Living Bird Magazine
California QuailCallipepla californica
- ORDER: Galliformes
- FAMILY: Odontophoridae
The California Quail is a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping head plume. Its stiffly accented Chi-ca-go call is a common sound of the chaparral and other brushy areas of California and the Northwest. Often seen scratching at the ground in large groups or dashing forward on blurred legs, California Quail are common but unobtrusive. They flush to cover if scared, so approach them gently.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for this bird in dry, patchy, low vegetation, and listen for the prominent Chi-ca-go call. These birds may forage calmly quite close to you, but will flush to cover if you startle them.
- Colín de California (Spanish)
- Colin de Californie (French)
You can attract California Quail to your yard by sprinkling grain or birdseed on the ground and providing dense shrubbery nearby for cover. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- The California Quail digests vegetation with the help of protozoans in its intestine. Chicks acquire the protozoans by pecking at the feces of adults.
- Several California Quail broods may mix after hatching, and all the parents care for the young. Adults that raise young this way tend to live longer than adults that do not.
- Pairs of California Quail call antiphonally, meaning that the male and female alternate calls, fitting their calls into a tightly orchestrated pattern.
- The California Quail’s head plume, or topknot, looks like a single feather, but it is actually a cluster of six overlapping feathers.
- As an adaptation to living in arid environments, California Quails can often get by without water, acquiring their moisture from insects and succulent vegetation. During periods of sustained heat they must find drinking water to survive.
- The California Quail is California’s state bird and has had roles in several Walt Disney movies, including "Bambi."
- California Quail nests can contain as many as 28 eggs. These large clutches may be the result of females laying eggs in nests other than their own, a behavior known as "egg-dumping."
- California Quail are pretty as well as popular with game hunters. They’ve been introduced to many other parts of the world, including Hawaii, Europe, and New Zealand.
- The oldest known California Quail was 6 years 11 months old.