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Gambel's Quail

ID Info
Gambel's Quail by Elroy Limmer/GBBC
Silhouette Game BirdsGame Birds
Gambel's QuailCallipepla gambelii
  • ORDER: Galliformes
  • FAMILY: Odontophoridae

Basic Description

Gambel’s Quail are gregarious birds of the desert Southwest, where coveys gather along brushy washes and cactus-studded arroyos to feed. Males and females both sport a bobbing black topknot of feathers. The male’s prominent black belly patch distinguishes it from the similar California Quail. This ground-hugging desert dweller would rather run than fly—look for these tubby birds running between cover or posting a lookout on low shrubs.

More ID Info
image of range map for Gambel's Quail
Range map provided by Birds of the World
Explore Maps

Find This Bird

Look for Gambel's Quail in the early morning and late afternoon, when temperatures are moderate and the birds are active. You'll find them in shrubby or thorny areas where they forage on the ground in fairly large groups. At times, one member of the covey will post a lookout on a fence post or shrub top; otherwise you'll need to look carefully at ground level. If you get too close without seeing them, they may startle you by suddenly exploding into flight.

Other Names

  • Colín de Gambel (Spanish)
  • Colin de Gambel (French)

Backyard Tips

Gambel's Quail are ground-feeding desert birds—so they are likely to visit yards that offer birdseed and water at ground level. They sometimes also come up to elevated platform feeders. You can attract them with sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, and milo. Visit Project FeederWatch for more information on how, what, and where to feed birds in your backyard.

  • Cool Facts