Callipepla californica
(California quail)

Order: Galliformes
Order Description: Pheasant, Grouse, Turkey, Quail
Family: Phasianidae
Family Description: Pheasant, Grouse, Turkey, Quail

Physical Description:
9-11" (23-28 cm). Adult males bluish-gray above, with scaled belly and rusty or brownish sides streaked with white; black forward-curving plume arises from chestnut crownClick word for definition; black face and throat outlined in white; white eyebrow. Females more brown than gray; buffClick word for definition scaling on belly and diagonal streaking on flanksClick word for definition; short dark plume.

Similar Species- Gambel's and Mountain Quails

A three syllabled Chi-ca'-go.

Resident from southern Oregon and western Nevada, south to southern Baja California. Apparently introduced into southern British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, northern Oregon, and Utah.

Found (usually near water) in brushy, grassy, and weedy areas in both humid and arid regions, including chaparralClick word for definition, forest edges, cultivated lands, semi-desert scrub, thickets, sagebrush, and, less frequently, open second-growth woodlands.

Primarily vegetarian. Eats leaves, seeds (e.g., clovers, lupines, grasses, grains), acorns, and berries. In spring, also eats tips of grasses and buds, as well as spiders, snails, and insects (e.g., grasshoppers, ants, beetles).

Usually nests on ground in shallow depression lined with vegetation. Sometimes nests above ground in fork of tree branch. Active during day, feeding mainly 1-2 hr after sunrise, and 1-2 hr before sunset. Highly gregariousClick word for definition, especially in fall and winter. In fall, family groups form coveys of 10- 200 birds, which usually disband by late April. Predators include hawks, owls, snakes, and coyotes.


Breeding begins in January (southern range), and ends in mid-May (north). Female incubatesClick word for definition 12-17 eggs (sometimes 6-18), for 21-23 days. precocialClick word for definition, downy nestlings are active soon after hatching, and are tended by both parents.

Element Code: ABNLC23040
Status: Game species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SE
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
No references are available at this time.

Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.