Merlin Bird Graphic

Merlin Bird ID

Try our free app foriOS | AndroidWeb version coming soon!
Recently Viewed Species

    Gambel's Quail

    ID Info
    Silhouette Game BirdsGame Birds

    Gambel's Quail

    Callipepla 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 QuailRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore 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
    • Codorniz 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