C Spots Farm

California Quail
(Juvenile pictured)

The California quail is one of the most common species found in North America.  The California quail is also known as the Valley quail. It is easily identified by its black forward drooping head plume (both sexes have this) and scaled underparts. They are a plump bird with a rich gray breast.  Often seen in large groups scratching the ground or dashing around on blurred legs, they are common but unobtrusive. As with any quail, they have a startle response and will flush from cover when frightened.

Male California Quail are typically a rich gray and brown with an outlined black face with bold white stripes. Females are a lighter brown and lack the facial markings.  They both have a pattern of white and chestnut scales on their underparts.  Immature birds will have a shorter topknot and be colored like females.

Searching for food is what California Quail spend most of their time doing. Scratching for grains and bugs in the morning and evening they can be found foraging beneath shrubs or open ground with cover nearby.  When startled they will explosively take to the air just long enough to reach a brushy area. 

Sagebrush, oak woodlands, chaparral and the foothills of forests of California and the Northwest are where California Quail are to be found. They become used to people and can also be found in agricultural areas, city parks and suburban gardens.
Some interesting facts about the California Quail:

California Quail chicks from different parents will mix in groups after hatching and the parents will take care of all of the young. 

The topknot of the California Quail is actually six overlapping feathers rather than one large feather.

A California Quail has been seen in several Walt Disney movies including “Bambi.”

The California Quail is California’s state bird.

California Quails can get by without water when there is drought by acquiring the moisture by eating insects and succulent vegetation.     
         During severe drought they do need a source of water to survive.

California Quail can be found in other parts of the world including Hawaii, New Zealand and Europe where they were introduced for hunting and are not a native species. 

6 years and 11 months old is the oldest age a California Quail has been known to live to.

Dense cover such as shrubbery can be used for cover by California Quail attracted to your yard by sprinkling birdseed or grain nearby. Backyard birders can enjoy watching California Quail in their yards. They are a common species in their territory of California and the Northwest and have been introduced in many places for hunting.